For Corey Ellis, an Albany councilman who is now in Denver as a delegate for Barack Obama, the Democratic National Convention has been an emotional experience.
When he saw members of the Kennedy family, including the ailing Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., “pass on the torch to the Obama family, it reminded me of my grandmother and what the Kennedys meant to her,” said Ellis, who, like Barack and Michelle Obama, is black.
Later Monday evening, when Ellis watched Michelle Obama’s speech, it came to him that “They are the American Dream.”
Ellis was one of the few New York politicians to have supported Obama over home state Sen. Hillary Clinton. Now, he said, the great majority of Clinton supporters have swung behind Obama. “The candidates are on board with one another and the campaigns are as well,” he said.
One of those Clinton delegates is Schenectady Mayor Brian Stratton, who was originally an alternate but got bumped up to full delegate status when Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings decided against making the trip.
“It’s a bittersweet moment,” said Stratton, a staunch supporter of Clinton, who had been the heavy favorite to win the nomination until the voting actually started in primaries and caucuses this year. “You can’t help but wonder what if …” said Stratton.
Rep. Michael McNulty, D-Green Island, who is retiring this year and may be attending his last convention, said Clinton gave “a very powerful presentation” to the New York delegation on Monday in which she urged support for Obama.
McNulty said he is not worried about opinion polls showing Obama in a tight race with Republican candidate Sen. John McCain of Arizona, although “You’d always like to be more ahead.” Polls on issues show people strongly support Democratic Party policies, the congressman said, and this will eventually be reflected in the voting booths.
Sandy Treadwell, a former New York Republican chairman who is currently running for Congress against Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-Greenport, said he watched a little of the convention on television, and was unimpressed.
“I didn’t hear a lot about issues that matter to a lot of people,” said Treadwell, who cited high prices for gasoline and other necessities, and the burden of high taxes. He spent Tuesday campaigning in Ballston Spa and Mechanicville, and said those were the things on people’s minds.
Treadwell, who is on the Republican National Committee and will attend next week’s GOP convention in Minnesota as a McCain delegate, said Congress has failed to come up with an effective energy policy that includes opening up more U.S. territory for drilling oil wells.
Gillibrand could not be reached for comment.
Ron Kim, Saratoga Springs’ public safety commissioner and a Clinton alternate, brought his wife and 11-year-old son along with him to Denver. He has a floor pass and they don’t, Kim said, but he is expecting all three of them will get into Obama’s acceptance speech Thursday in a football stadium.
Albany’s Ellis, who is single, said alcohol is not served at convention events, but open bars are common at outside parties. “We crashed one party yesterday,” he said of an event hosted by the Illinois delegation.
But Ellis said his networking serves a serious purpose, learning from and coordinating with others on the best strategies for the fall campaign. Obama supporters from the Capital Region traveled to other states in the primary season, he said, and will do so again in the general election. They may go to New Hampshire, Ohio and Pennsylvania, three of the swing states that could decide the election. Polls show Obama well ahead in New York, although a Siena poll this week showed some reduction in his lead.