20080521 Westminster Eagle: Pecoraro makes 'superdelegate' stand in advance of convention
05/21/08 By Kevin E. Dayhoff
Political and presidential historians are often quick to point out that the Democratic Party is the oldest political party in the Unites States.
However, many folks may not be aware that much of the roots of the party are arguably in Maryland.
The U.S. Democratic Party, and specifically, the Maryland Democratic Party "is among the oldest, continuous existing political organizations in the world," according to a brief history of the Maryland Democratic Party written by Carroll County historian and former Maryland Secretary of State John T. Willis.
Mr. Willis is considered by many to be a nationally known authority on political history -- especially Democratic Party history.
In his historical account he notes that it was on this day in 1827, "that a meeting of Andrew Jackson supporters organized a political structure in the State designed to help one of the national founders of our Party win the PresidencyÉ"
Five years later, on May 21, 1832, the first national political convention of the Democrat Party was held in Baltimore.
According to Willis, it "was held at the Atheneum (and Warfield's Church) É located on the southwest corner of St. Paul and Lexington Streets. Twelve delegates from each county and six delegates from Baltimore City were invited to attend."
From 1832 to 1872, eight of the 12 Democrat party national conventions were held in Baltimore. Considering that two of the main routes to Baltimore, from all points west, travel through Carroll County, an historian's imagination can run wild as to what national political figures may have passed through Carroll in those days.
Fast-forwarding to the present, as the Democratic primaries draw to a close, presidential historians are looking forward to a very busy summer.
However, one portion of the drama of the longest presidential campaign in history may be coming to an anti-climatic finish, as presidential candidate and Illinois Senator Barack Obama seems to be close to a mathematical edge over his rival for the Oval Office, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.
In one important development that made national news, just last Friday, Westminster Common Councilmember and Democratic National Convention superdelegate Greg Pecoraro endorsed Senator Obama.
The term, "superdelegate" is relatively new in our political lexicon.
It's actually an informal term coined for a credentialed delegate at the presidential convention who is either a party leader or an elected official. For example, Gov. Martin O'Malley is another superdelegate.
They are free to endorse whomever they choose at the national convention.
Mr. Pecoraro's announcement was carried by outlets as far and wide as the Associated Press, Time magazine's political blog, "The Page," as well as the highly entertaining and controversial political blogs "The Daily Kos" and "The Huffington Post."
In a statement released on Obama's Web site, Pecoraro said, "Today, I am very excited to join the large majority of Maryland Democrats who expressed their enthusiasm for Senator Obama's candidacy in our state's presidential primary. Like them, I believe Barack Obama is the right leader for our time."
Pecoraro praised Senator Clinton, too, but ultimately decided: "I strongly believe that Senator Obama offers us the best opportunity we have had for many years to turn away from the politics of division and despair, and look towards an America of opportunity and progress."
Mr. Pecoraro will join Maryland's 99 delegates who will vote at the Democratic National Convention, which will be held this year from Aug. 25 through the 28th in The Pepsi Center in Denver, Colo.
Mathematics has been a preoccupation of many political observers for the past number of months as the numbers involved in the convention are bewildering.
One published account estimates that it will cost approximately $15 million just to prepare The Pepsi Center for the estimated 35,000 folks who are expected to attend. That includes more than 15,000 members of the media.
However, it's the sheer numbers of the delegates that is mind-boggling -- there are 4,048 voting convention delegates attending.
In a phone conversation with Pecoraro the other day, he seemed unfazed. He said he's attended every National Democratic Convention since 1980 except one.
Moreover, he said it's a great honor to be a part of history and that he was looking forward to this year's convention.
He's not the only one. Outside of the summer blockbusters in movie theaters, it might be the best source of suspense we'll see this summer.
Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.