Saturday, July 24, 2004

Dems set for the big par-tay

Ky. delegate scores major-event invites

By Patrick Crowley
Enquirer staff writer

COVINGTON - Bob Sanders was busy Friday plotting strategy for next week's Democratic National Convention in Boston.

"We've been working on this for several weeks," said Sanders, a trial lawyer and first-time Democratic delegate, who has been planning in concert with his wife, Shirley, and Lexington lawyer Justin Morgan.

"I think we've scored passes for every major party and event," he said. "It's going to be a very inspiring week from a political standpoint.

"But it's also going to be a lot of fun."

Along with the formality of helping nominate John Kerry and John Edwards as the party's presidential ticket, the Northern Kentucky Democrats heading to the convention will experience a nearly week-long celebration packed with parties and politics.

Joining Sanders will be delegates Brad Burtner of Villa Hills, a Kenton County Democratic Party leader active in the air traffic controllers union, and Northern Kentucky University lawyer Sara Sidebottom of Crestview Hills.

Jeanelle Fuson, also a member of the Kenton County Democratic Party, will go to Boston as an alternate delegate.

With their endless speeches and countless issue forums, political conventions are designed to excite Democrats for the November election. Delegates are expected to soak up the party's platform and message and then spread the word among Democratic activists back home.

"It will be four days of cheerleading," Sanders said.

"I'm looking forward to the speeches by all the luminaries of the Democratic Party - Edwards, Kerry, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Al Sharpton and many others."

He also hopes to score Clinton's signature on the copy of his biography.

On the policy front, Sanders wants to hear Kerry and the party's leaders talk about their plan to keep America strong in the war on terrorism.

"But we need to redirect the war on terrorism to actually fighting the terrorists," he said in a not-so-veiled shot at the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq.

Sidebottom, a former Kenton County District Judge, said she is anxious to hear policy presentations on education, homeland security and health care.

"(Sen.) Ted Kennedy is chairing the health-care presentation, and most of the Democratic leadership will be there," she said.

But along with policy presentations, Sidebottom said, she will "work in" some social time. Her party agenda includes a gathering of Kentucky's delegates at Harvard University, a boat trip and clambake and a reception honoring Kentucky Congressman Ben Chandler of Woodford County.

She is particularly looking forward to a "No CARB" event put on by the leading women Democrats.

The CARB is an acronym for the last names of Vice President Dick Cheney, Attorney General John Ashcroft, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush.

Kenton County Republican Michael Plummer said the Democrats can party and laugh all they want next week because President Bush is going to carry Kentucky in the fall.

"We in Kentucky support President Bush during this time of war," said Plummer, a lawyer and a member of Fort Mitchell city council.

Some Democrats are going to the convention as guests of the Democratic Party. Most are either major contributors or are active in raising money.

Alice Sparks of Crescent Springs and Kenton County Democratic Chairman Nathan Smith, who are business partners in a manufactured-housing company, fall into that category.

Sparks has given more than $50,000 to the party over the last few years; Smith has helped Kerry raise money.

Among the invites they've received are bowling and pool with movie star Ben Affleck, a private concert by rocker Jon Bon Jovi and cocktails with the Kennedys.

"I'm looking forward to the Democratic Party explaining their agenda for tomorrow's America," Smith said.

"I'm also excited about having a good time," he said.



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