Carolina in My Mind
It was an easy and scenic drive along the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains into Charlotte. As we approached Charlotte a single tall profile stood out above the trees, then a few more to reveal a modern urban, compact hi-rise skyline but we turned north to Concord for the Maryland delegation headquarters at the Embassy Suites-Concord. This relatively new hotel complex with a conference center is about 15 miles north of the center of Charlotte and hosts the Maryland, Michigan, Rhode Island and New Mexico delegations. We’ll have our breakfast and morning delegation meetings here before boarding buses for the time Warner Cable Arena or Convention Center.
Maryland Democratic Party staff, hotel staff and very friendly Charlotte volunteers greeted the steady stream of arriving delegates and conventioneers. At the Maryland credentials office we picked up our badges, goody bags from the city and sponsors, and delegate bags. The contents covered the bed, with some interesting items from sponsors including a 1 pound bag of brown sugar.
After inspection of the miscellaneous assortment it was off to the first event, with a bus ride for more get acquainted time. The reception for the Maryland and New Jersey delegations was held in Charlotte at the Wadsworth Estate, in the shadow the downtown skyline. We heard from Governor O’Malley, Maryland Democratic Party Chair Yvette Lewis and Charlotte City Council Member and former National League of Cities President James Mitchell. It wasn’t too rousing but Governor O’Malley did note that the New Jersey governor might even enjoy this get together, then he lead the “Forward, Not Back” chant as he recited the accomplishments of the Obama administration. Mostly we had more get acquainted time and enjoyed some Charlotte hospitality, including some Carolina barbeque. Then it was back on the bus to the HQ hotel, closing the day at the first Maryland reception with more food, refreshment, music, some dancing and camaraderie.
The buses are rapidly becoming an interesting topic and experience. Delegations are lodging in suburbs in and around Charlotte with about one-third in the city. It turns out in order to provide the necessary transportation service, drivers and buses have been recruited from throughout the region and some drivers aren’t familiar with the area. Our driver got lost on the way to the first reception and on the return trip back to the hotel our bus broke down with about a mile to go. I expect there will be lots of bus stories.
Common among the delegates and attendees from Maryland and other states, districts and territories is a commitment to the President’s reelection that runs deep and pure. The spirit here is infectious. The diversity is notable and reassuring, not only in terms of being representative of all of America but also with respect to gender, age, education, income and profession. It feels like that’s how it should be. Kind of like a verse from a favorite song people hum around here.
With a holy host of others standin’ around me
Still I’m on the dark side of the moon
And it seems like it goes on like this forever
You must forgive me, if I’m up and gone to
Carolina in my mind