Locals serve as delegates at conventions

Published 12:50 am Monday, August 27, 2012

NATCHEZ — During the next two weeks, Democrats and Republicans will gather separately in two cities to officially nominate their respective presidential candidates, and a few Natchez locals are proud to be representing the area at the national conventions.

The Republican National Convention to nominate Mitt Romney was scheduled to begin today in Tampa, Fla., but it has been delayed until at least Tuesday afternoon because of the threat of Hurricane Isaac.

President Obama will accept the Democratic nomination at the Democratic National Convention scheduled for Sept. 4-6 in Charlotte, N.C.

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Sue Stedman, the chair of the local Republican Party, will be attending the RNC as a delegate alternate. She was selected as an alternate through an internal party process that begins at the local level and culminates at the state convention.

As a delegate alternate, Stedman she won’t necessarily be casting a vote in the official candidate nomination process, but if the delegate for the area is not able to cast a vote she will step in and do so.

And if she does get a chance to vote, Stedman will be casting a ballot for Newt Gingrich, who officially suspended his campaign for the Republican nomination in May. While some state parties allocate all of their delegates to the overall state winner in a primary election, Mississippi does not.

“In Mississippi you have each delegate vote for the candidate that their district gave the most votes to,” Stedman said. “You have to vote for the person who carried your district, and here that was Newt Gingrich.”

“If you are a delegate or an alternate, it doesn’t matter if you personally voted for that individual or not.”

Stedman was selected to attend the RNC in 2008, but a bad storm at home prevented her from attending. Stedman said she’s looking forward to actually being on the voting floor, hearing some of the speeches and getting to meet nationally important Republicans.

“It is a great opportunity to actually get to see in person your very high profile, very visible people within the party,” she said.

“There are tons of functions throughout the week while you are there that you can choose to attend or not, but there is something going on all the time.”

Democratic National Convention delegate Phillip West, former mayor and state representative, and superdelegate Everett Sanders said they are looking forward to the honor of participating in the nomination of a sitting president.

This year’s convention will be the fifth consecutive convention for Sanders.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “I think it will be exciting because it will be the first time the Democrats have had an opportunity to re-nominate a sitting president since Bill Clinton.”

West said he is proud to represent Mississippi’s third congressional district, as well as Natchez and Adams County, at the convention.

“It’s a honor and a privilege being there,” West said. “Any time they have a convention, Democratic or Republican, it’s a historic occasion, and it was an honor that I was able to elected.”

It will be West’s third or fourth time attending a convention, and each time, he said, it reminds him of the privilege and responsibility Americans have to be part of the democratic process that is the election.

“It’s an honor to represent an appreciation our responsibility to be a part of the democratic process and the responsibility of ours to vote,” West said. “I hope to be able to be part of the momentum that will come away from the convention.”