Ariz. delegates show support for Obama in Denver - East Valley Tribune: News

Ariz. delegates show support for Obama in Denver

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Posted: Monday, August 25, 2008 7:38 pm | Updated: 11:51 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Arizona delegates to the Democratic National Convention are eager to throw their support behind Sen. Barack Obama and dispel the myth of a divided party.

Those who supported Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton want to give her the courtesy of a first-round vote, but are expected to be free to cast their second ballots for Obama during Wednesday's roll-call vote.

"I am a Clinton supporter, but I will proudly support Obama," said delegate Dana Kennedy, communications director for the Arizona AFL-CIO who handled media duties for Clinton's Arizona campaign.

"This is now about the future of the country."

Kennedy and the rest of Arizona's 67 delegates are juggling full schedules at the Denver convention this week, squeezing in dozens of meetings, speeches and caucuses led by a wide array of interest groups and politicians.

Gov. Janet Napoliitano is arguably the busiest, addressing several breakfast meetings each day, then headlining news conferences, roundtables and meetings before the convention convenes.

She joined New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson for a press briefing Monday on an increasingly familiar theme - the West's growing clout and its importance in the November elections.

"The West is going to be a player," Napolitano press secretary Jeanine L'Ecuyer said Monday evening in between the governor's appearances. That includes Arizona, where Republican rival Sen. John McCain is largely viewed as a lock.

Napolitano is among 10 governors who will speak at the convention today in advance of Clinton's keynote address. The evening's theme is "renewing America's promise."

"She's going to focus on the economy, particularly the squeeze on the middle class," L'Ecuyer said. The six-minute speech is expected to air between 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

By winning a majority of the vote in Arizona's February primary, Clinton earned 31 pledged delegates to Obama's 25. Twelve "superdelegates," including elected officials and party leaders, did not have to declare a preference, though most did.

But the split between Obama supporters and Clinton loyalists, to the extent that it ever existed, is forgotten, according to those in both camps.

"We struggled during the primaries, because we really hoped that Hillary Clinton would do better," said northeast Phoenix resident Howard Bell, who along with his wife, Lisa, initially was committed to Clinton,

"But now that we know Barack Obama is going to be the nominee," Bell said, "we are 100 percent behind him."

Mesa business owner and fellow conventioneer Kit Filbey, an Obama delegate, said it was an easy transition to blend Obama and Clinton delegates to support the Democratic ticket.

"As delegates, most all of us know each other quite well, because we work on different things together," Filbey said. "We were all friends before this started and we're even better friends now."

Clinton's speech falls on the 88th anniversary of women winning the right to vote and will cap a day of celebration for women, Kennedy said, starting with a women's caucus in the morning and an EMILY's List reception in the afternoon, featuring Clinton, Michelle Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

In honor of the suffragettes, many delegates will wear white to tonight's proceedings.

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