The organizers of Virginia's delegation are sure there must be hundreds or thousands -- or, at least a few -- people out there who wanted desperately to be part of the state's trek to Boston. To help them live vicariously, there is www.documentingdemocracy.com.
That Web site is the Virginia delegation blog. Laura Bland, the Democratic Party's communications director, said she believes it is the only online convention journal being run by a state delegation.
"The audience is the great mass of people who are not part of the Virginia delegation," Bland said. "The intent is to provide a sense of participation when they are not in Boston . . . to bring politics to the absolute grass-roots level."
The number of people logging on is unclear. But one feature of an online blog is its ability to allow people to post replies to what they've read. There are precious few so far, although one reader says: "I'm enjoying your website so much. If I can't be there I can at least see what's happening with VA delegation!"
The blog phenomenon at the convention has prompted debate about just who should be considered a journalist. But the Virginia blog makes no pretense of being objective. It's primarily a "what we did on our vacation" essay.
There are casual postings, such as the one from John F. Kerry's state chairman, Lawrence H. Framme III, after the speech by Barak Obama, the Illinois Senate candidate: "It was an 'Oh my God!' kind of night! Last night the speakers just kept getting better. Clearly our party has another new star."
And then there are the photos of the delegates, hundreds of them. Cheering, standing in line, sticking out their tongues, talking on the phone, clapping, meeting talk show host Jerry Springer.
"A blog like this is ideal for conveying a sense of excitement among the delegates, conveying a sense of relevance," Bland said.
Civil Rights Honorees
Veterans of civil rights battles in the 1960s gathered at a luncheon Wednesday to honor a group of African American Democrats from Mississippi who demanded seats at the 1964 convention. Among them were three current District dwellers: former city council member Frank Smith, D.C. Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Lawrence Guyot and city employee June Johnson.
All three were members of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party honored this week in Boston. In 1964, Fannie Lou Hamer pleaded with the party, and the nation, for Democrats to seat them with the all-white Mississippi delegation at the convention, held that year in Atlantic City.
The luncheon drew Grammy-winning gospel artist Bebe Wynans, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), and NAACP President Kweisi Mfume, among others.
During a conference earlier at Northeastern University, New Jersey Secretary of State Regina Thomas told a packed gathering that many people have become familiar with the story of the Freedom Democrats, but most people don't know that, when they returned to Mississippi, Guyot and Johnson were beaten as they tried to register people to vote.
"June Johnson was only 14 years old when she was beaten nearly to death, all because she and her mother just wanted people to register to vote," Thomas said.
A Little Help From Corporations
Life as a delegate can be expensive in a big city such as Boston. So many of Virginia's biggest corporate citizens have come to the rescue, showering the delegates -- many of whom serve in the legislature or in local government -- with goodies.
Upon arrival, each convention delegate received a bag stuffed with helpful little things, each emblazoned with a corporate logo. Delegate Katherine K. Hanley, the former chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, offered a peek inside her bag.
There was a plastic cup from the state Realtors association, a Verizon mouse pad and a pen from Genworth Financial. The bag also had a calculator from AT&T and a pedometer from Dominion Resources.
In addition, Hanley pulled out a can of sugar-free apple juice, a tiny bag of peanuts, an application for a Democratic Party platinum MasterCard and a "Virginia is for Lovers" bumper sticker.
But even with all the goodies, eating and drinking can still be a problem. Enter Altria (the corporate parent of Philip Morris) and McGuire Woods (Virginia's largest law firm). Altria sponsored a three-hour open bar Tuesday night. McGuire Woods threw a fancy party for Gov. Mark R. Warner on Monday and a breakfast for delegates on Wednesday.
Kaine Works Ahead
Virginia Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine took time Wednesday to remember that 2005 is not that far away.
The Democratic Party's presumptive nominee for governor held a reception for the state's delegates at their swank Boston hotel to thank them and seek support.
"I need your help," he told the crowd, adding that he's feeling good about the contest against the likely GOP candidate, Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore. "The ones who were saying I was an underdog aren't saying it now. And let me tell you, I'm going to win it. I'm going to win it!"
Kaine said he will fight until the end and will never give up.
"God didn't give me a reverse gear!" he roared.
Staff writer Hamil R. Harris contributed to this report.