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Maine logs into digital convention

Convention is honor of a lifetime for some, distraction for others
Published: Aug. 18, 2020 at 4:29 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The Democratic Convention is underway, but only online. Most of Maine’s delegates are devoted to the event, even if it’s not what they imagined. But at least one high-profile member will stay focused on his day job.

The Milwaukee, WI arena that would have hosted the DNC sits empty, as delegates scattered across the country meet via webcams and chatrooms. It’s a political convention unlike any other, but for former Brewer Maine Mayor Bev Uhlenhake, there’s no consolation prize in making this kind of history.

“No,” she said emphatically and with a laugh when asked if a unique place in history could be seen as a silver-lining, “I mean really, do you want to be able to say I was able to attend that convention virtually?”

Uhlenhake said while the event isn’t what she hoped, it’s still the honor of a lifetime, “I’m thrilled to be able to attend and watch in whatever way is possible.” She said she hopes to get the full experience in 2024.

From opening speeches to the balloon drops, every four years Uhlenhake and her father would watch every minute of both conventions. Her father passed away in 2016, but she treasures those memories, most notably, their conversation surrounding Geraldine Ferraro’s 1984 selection as Walter Mondale’s running mate.

Ferraro was the first woman chosen for a major party’s ticket. Uhlenhake remembers asking her father about it, and she credits his answer with forging her future in small-town public service.

“Dad said, ‘women can do this thing called politics, there’s no reason they can’t do it,” she recalled.

With Joe Biden’s nomination secure and the platform nailed down, Uhlenhake argues the the party’s job is straightforward: to inspire the base, each other, and future generations.

Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME) isn’t as drawn to the event. He said – in person or online – he never planned on checking into the convention. “I really am focused on the governing side of things,” he explained in a recent interview.

He’ll spend his time meeting with constituents this week – and pushing fellow lawmakers to sign off on new federal assistance for businesses held-back by outdated internet connections.

Most pressingly, he argues it’s time leaders in both parties break the political stalemate over another coronavirus relief bill, each day delayed coming with additional financial cost to Americans. “There’s no doubt, that right now there are a lot of people who aren’t getting any help,” he said.

Help may not be on the immediate horizon. Conventions run through early next week, and both the House and Senate remain on recess.

In Wash, I’m KM

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