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35 Utah Democratic Delegates Head To National Convention - On Their Computers

Photo of Biden waving at DNC crowd.
Anthony Quintano
/
Flickr Creative Commons
Then-Vice President Joe Biden waves to a crowd at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. This year, he is the presumptive presidential nominee, and will deliver a speech from his home state of Delaware during the virtual convention.

Thirty-five Utah delegates, along with other party leaders, are participating in the Democratic National Convention next week. But, in order to help slow the spread of COVID-19, they won’t be getting on a plane to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Instead they’ll log on to their computers to participate in a virtual convention. 

Breanna Kirkbride is a national delegate for the first time this year. When she was elected in April, and it was looking like the convention might still be in person, she said she was really excited about the opportunity. 

“I'm very involved with the local Democratic Party,” Kirkbride said. “So I was really excited to be able to get more experience and meet more people nationally.”

She has been working virtually with other delegates across the nation younger than 35 to get more young people involved in party politics. She said she was looking forward to meeting those people face to face, but things changed when the party moved the convention largely online.

“That's the thing that I was most saddened about: just really being able to connect with people,” she said. “I'm also very happy that they are taking these precautions. I would much rather be safe than sorry given the current pandemic.”

There will still be virtual meetings, but Utah Democratic Party Chair Jeff Merchant said it will be harder to do the networking and fundraising he usually does at conventions. 

“Some of those relationships are developed literally by who you just happened to sit down next to,” Merchant said. “It’s going to be different than a virtual event where, you know, if you're lucky, you get put into a small virtual room for 20 minutes with some people.”

There is a silver lining, though, to a virtual convention, Merchant said. He’s hoping more people will attend because it’s cheaper, and the convention can have a higher production value in video speeches.

Sonja Hutson covers politics for KUER. Follow Sonja on Twitter @SonjaHutson

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