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Local Democrats Head To Convention In Philly

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  As Republicans begin unpacking from their four day party in Cleveland, local Democrats are getting ready for their convention next week in Philadelphia. There will be three delegates to the Democratic National Convention from Pensacola. Two are pledged to Hillary Clinton, one to Bernie Sanders.

Dianne Krumel is President of the Democratic Women’s Club in Pensacola and local State Committee Woman for the Florida Democratic Party. "As a delegate my number one duty is to support and vote for Hillary Clinton." Krumel says that vote and the vote for vice president are her main duties, but are not the only ones. "I understand we will be voting on Monday on some issues. So I'm looking forward to supporting Hillary Clinton on the issues that will be coming up for a vote. I'm not privy to what those are, but I was told that we will be voting on Monday."

Krumel says the days will be filled with speakers and meetings from breakfast to late night. "There's more meetings than I can possibly attend so I will pick and choose the ones that I feel are more pertinent to Pensacola and the panhandle so I can learn and bring those messages back."

Krumel will be attending her first Democratic Convention next week. So will Reverend Ron Helms, a former pastor and now a businessman in Pensacola. He says becoming a Democratic delegate was a "small d" democratic process. "Here in Escambia County I put my name in the hat. We held an election [throughout] congressional district one, which [extends] way beyond Escambia County. And I happened to be one of the lucky winners."

Helms is also a Clinton delegate and has a long history with the former Secretary of State. "I have known Hillary for many years. I worked on her senate campaigns when I lived in upstate New York in Rochester."

Helms says he also worked on Bill Clinton's presidential campaigns. He is also looking forward to casting votes on the Democratic platform. "The party platform...has been coming together. It's quite progressive. I think some of those positions will be quite challenging for us especially here in Northwest Florida.

And of course there will be the speeches. Dianne Krumel says she is looking forward to hearing from an impressive lineup. "Michelle Obama on Monday. We'll have Senator Bernie Sanders to come in and speak  and unify the party and bring [along] his supporters. It's going to be non-stop. Bill Clinton is going to be speaking, President Obama and Vice President Biden are also speaking. So I'm just looking forward to being there. But they are also going to have, every day speakers from across America. A very diverse group of speakers." And that will include Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin.

Once the speeches and meetings are done, Krumel says there will be time for some fun. "Well Lady Ga Ga is gonna have a concert with Lenny Kravitz on Thursday! We're going to try to get tickets. It's a once in a lifetime concert!" Krumel is also looking forward to some Philly cheese steak and seeing some historic sights. "There's so much to see in Philadelphia. And like we've done the pelicans here (in Pensacola) they've painted the pelicans, they've painted the donkeys all around Philadelphia where we can go and have our photos taken." Ron Helms is also looking forward to some sight seeing "Well of course I'm going to go to the Liberty Bell. There is so much history in Philadelphia."

And then it’s time to head back home to the panhandle, where campaigning for any democrat is an uphill battle. Krumel and Helms, as well as Bernie Sander delegate Larry Kellar are all from Escambia County. There are no Democratic delegates to the convention from Santa Rosa or Okaloosa Counties. 

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.