Monday, August 18, 2008

Our Wolverine State Delegate...Interviewed

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Introducing Mark Miller, delegate from Michigan. He gave his own self-into here, but there were those burning questions I just had to ask.

DocJess: So, Mark, welcome to DCW. Is this your first convention as a delegate?

Mark: Yes. In August 2003, I heard Howard Dean in Chicago on his “Sleepless Summer Tour”, shook his hand, and changed from being a Democratic voter to a Democrat. In the spring of 2004, Dean earned one delegate from our district, and I suggested to the guy who had organized the local Dean group that he should go. I wondered then if I would ever get to go myself, and here I am!

Welcome to the world of political activism. How are you finding it?

Here in corner of Southwest Michigan, I’m currently running for Township Trustee, as I mentioned in my first DCW post.

We’ll come back to that as I have a few questions about it, but first, what are you most looking forward to at the Convention?

Three things: first, networking with other delegates and sharing experiences. Then, and this may sound a little “politically nerdy”, but I really like speeches. I am looking forward to hearing all of them. Finally, I hear there are some great hats, and I’m hoping to come home with a few of them.

You are certainly in good company here on the topic of “politically nerdy”, although for some of us, we call it “political junkie disease”. And I think any of us who’ve ever been to conventions at any level are cool with the hats. And while we’re on the topic of attire, Ed Espinoza, our resident Super Delegate, has mentioned that the most important thing is “comfortable shoes”. Are you set?

I’m a hiker from way back, so yes, I’m ready with my hiking boots. And I might need them. As of today, the Michigan delegation still doesn’t have our hotel reservations due to what they are calling “computerware” problems which are still not worked out.

I’m not worried though. I’m committed to attending the Convention. I am driving out, and had planned to take a few days afterward and make use of the beautiful Rockies by hiking and camping. So if worse comes to worst, I have a car, a tent and a sleeping bag.

Love your level of commitment. So, you’re from Michigan. Did you find the whole primary process intense?

The word ‘intense’ does not come close to capturing the magnitude of it all. It all seems calm here now, although I’m in the Southwest corner of Michigan, and don’t really personally know a lot of delegates from other parts of the state.

I started as a candidate for Uncommitted delegate, although I really have been an Obama supporter since February, 2007. When the Rules and Bylaws Committee made the compromise that allowed the Michigan delegation to be seated, the Uncommitted delegates were assigned to Obama.

Was there some sort of meeting for that, where people had to show their hands, or take a pledge?

No, I did it by e-mail. I guess that’s how everyone did it.

Do you think there could be defections now that there is going to be a roll call vote?

None in the western part of the state, and none that I know of at all. Since you mention the roll call, I’m wondering how things will play out. Will there be an interruption where Obama is nominated by acclimation? Will Clinton be embarrassed by her support eroding away? I don’t know, I don’t think anyone does.

Agreed. The only one who thinks it won’t be newsworthy is Jack Shafer.Are you concerned about the protests?

No. I’ve been reading DCW for a while, so I know that there is a protest area, and I think if there are street delegations, the local Denver authorities will make sure the Convention is not disrupted.

Once the Convention is over, I guess you’ll be going back to your local campaign.

It’s a part time position, like most local row positions. So I’ll be going back to the campaign, and my day job as an avian researcher.

What are you finding most interesting about your campaign?

The fact that even at the local level, there is a sea change. The Township level, the most local level of government here, has always been Republican - until this year. Of the six people running in the Democratic primary for Township Trustee, one of them was the Republican incumbent Township Trustee.

How did she do?

She came in fourth. I came in first.

You’re saying that the Republican gave up her party? Or did she cross-file?

Yes – she switched. We don’t have cross-filing here. Some people run for local office because it’s a stepping stone, and some just want to do this kind of work in the local community. She’s the latter, and she saw which way things were heading.

What happened on the Republican side? Were there more overall votes?

Republicans seem to be more disciplined voters on the average, so about 2/3 of the turnout in the primary was Republican. There were 6 Democratic candidates, and 3 Republican ones. There are 4 total positions, and the votes will be totaled. It’s not like in some places, like where you live, where a set number will be accorded by party.

In the fall, I think turnout in our township will be more like 60/40 Democratic – for Obama. Plus, this is a straight party ballot state, so there might be some benefit down-ticket if people pick the “Democratic” column.

I’m hoping, and I’m doing everything I can to win! It looks pretty good right now.

Thanks for your time, Mark, have a great time at the convention, and good luck with the election.