Dems warn many won’t get into Denver convention | VailDaily.com
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Dems warn many won’t get into Denver convention

George Merritt
Associated Press
Vail, CO Colorado

DENVER, Colorado ” The group coordinating volunteers for the Democratic National Convention has a message for anyone who thinks blowing up a few balloons will be their ticket to a front row seat at the convention: Not so fast.

Overwhelmed by more than 25,000 people interested in volunteering, the Denver 2008 Host Committee this week sent out a note politely stating that the reward for volunteering is not likely to go beyond self-satisfaction.

“Some people have the impression that a volunteer position is a ticket, or a credential, to the Democratic Convention,” the host committee’s volunteer update read. “We certainly don’t want to create any unattainable expectations, so the Host Committee will put it on the record that very few volunteers will be stationed in and around the Pepsi Center during the Convention.”

Host committee spokesman Chris Lopez said organizers were not expecting to hear from so many volunteers so many months before the August convention.

Even in the era of choreographed party conventions, Lopez said, the potential for Democrats to nominate their first female or first black presidential candidate without an incumbent in the White House has made this convention particularly coveted among political enthusiasts.

“If you think of all the conventions that have been held over the years,” Lopez said, “and you say to yourself, ‘which convention would I to participate in?’ you would say the 2008 Democratic convention in Denver just because of the buzz around it.”

He said the host committee is fielding calls from around the country each day with some willing to uproot their families for a shot at witnessing the convention.

“They HAVE to be here,” Lopez said. “I spoke with a lady from back east and she was saying ‘my 14-year-old HAS to be there’ because she wants him to engage and know about this particular convention at this particular moment in history.”

But all the enthusiasm does not change the fact that even in the most mundane election years, party conventions are a tough ticket.

“Usually most of the people coming from outside the state are families of delegates and they know they won’t get in the hall,” state Democratic party chair Pat Waak said. “I’ve been told by the (Democratic National Committee) ‘do not promise anybody anything.'”

Mary Alice Mandarich, who’s been to three conventions as a delegate, said she managed to get her family inside at Boston’s 2004 convention, but it was a daily struggle.

“I know there are huge volunteer needs outside the hall,” she said, remembering volunteers who helped at hotels and at the airport. “But it is very difficult to get inside the hall.”

The host committee’s letter this week highlights some of those jobs, saying “there will be plenty of important and rewarding volunteer opportunities related to events, hospitality, information sharing, greening and transportation where people will have a chance to be in the middle of a lot of action.”

Lopez said anyone who volunteers after March 15 will be put on a waiting list, and the host committee will focus on using volunteers who have already signed up.

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On the Net:

Democratic National Convention: volunteers page: http://denverconvention2008.com/index.cfm?page=volunteer


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