Local Dem delegates will rally for Obama | AspenTimes.com

Local Dem delegates will rally for Obama

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

A Basalt man who is a delegate to the Democratic National Convention said Tuesday he will have no problem switching his allegiance from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama to help the party win the presidency.

Richard “Bryan” Gonzales said he has avoided the animosity that affected some people in the Clinton and Obama camps during the candidates’ hard-fought battle for the Democratic nod.

Obama has gathered enough delegates to earn the party’s nomination. When Clinton concedes the race ” as is anticipated, despite her defiance in a speech Tuesday night ” Gonzales said he will make his switch official.

“I have nothing against Obama,” said Gonzales, 43, a former production manager at The Aspen Times and now an Aspen real estate agent.

Gonzales is one of only two Roaring Fork Valley residents selected as delegates for the Democrats’ national convention in Denver in August. He was selected as an at-large candidate.

Blanca O’Leary, 50, an Aspen attorney, was selected as a delegate from the 3rd Congressional District. She said she has been a supporter of Obama for three years, since she saw him speak at an Aspen Institute forum.

“About an hour ago I couldn’t have talked to you,” O’Leary said shortly before 8 p.m. Tuesday, when it became clear Obama had amassed enough delegates for the nomination. “I was crying. I was so happy.”

Nick Isenberg of Garfield County was selected as an alternate from the 3rd Congressional District.

Gonzales said he didn’t envision holding out for Clinton in hopes of gaining concessions on the party platform. The positions of Clinton and Obama are very similar, so no haggling on platforms is necessary, he said.

“What is there to fight about?” asked Gonzales.

Instead, he said the two candidates infused the Democratic party with new vigor. He believes Democrats will mend their differences and rally to defeat the presumptive Republican nominee, John McCain. He doesn’t want to see the fight drag on.

“Quite honestly, this has gone on long enough,” he said.

O’Leary also is optimistic that Democrats can put differences behind them and rally behind their nominee. “There’s going to be a small amount of people [who are bitter] no matter who the nominee is,” she said. Most of the Clinton supporters she has spoken to said they will support Obama, she added.

About 5,000 Democrats will meet at Denver’s Pepsi Center in August to nominate their presidential candidate and take care of other party business. There will be 70 delegates and nine alternates from Colorado.

O’Leary is the volunteer coordinator for the Obama campaign in Pitkin County. She plans to work tirelessly in the next six months to get out the vote for Obama in the November general election. She and other politically active mothers who support the Democratic nominee call themselves the “Obama Mamas.”

O’Leary said she secured a spot at a national delegate by sending personal notes to voters at the state convention. She was well-organized and had unanimous support of the Pitkin County delegation.

Gonzales counts himself among newcomers who were energized to get involved in politics because of the Democratic candidates. This is his first time as a delegate to a national convention.

At the Colorado Democratic State Convention, Gonzales earned support by winning over voters at the state convention. Urban areas dominate the delegate selection process, so El Jebel resident Kim Wille created the Coalition of Mountain and Rural Counties for the state convention to try to ensure some representation. Gonzales said he talked to members of that coalition and earned their support.

He will concentrate on getting Obama elected, then remain connected to politics. He said he will stay involved in some yet-to-be-determined grass-roots effort.

“I got bit,” he said.