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Local Democratic Delegate Remembers Philly

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Dianne Krumel
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Dianne Krumel (and her hat) on the floor of the Democratic National Convention

The conventions are done and the 2016 general election season is under way. But before we put the big parties in Cleveland and Philadelphia to bed, we thought we’d get a first-hand account of what it was like in the middle of the action on the convention floor. 

Dianne Krumel was one of three local delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last week. It was the first convention for all three. "It was more than I expected it to be! Everyone tried to prepare me, it was my first time" she said about a week after returning, "the second we actually got on the plane and into the terminals and started running into some of our other 'Hillary friends' the excitement was just building and building and it was non-stop from there."

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When you look at the four largest states in presidential politics: California, Texas, Florida and New York, the Sunshine State is the only one that’s pretty much not a foregone conclusion on who will win. That earns the delegation some perks. "Being from Florida got us right up front. They do realize that we are a swing state and that we play a very big part in determining who is going to be the next president. So they gave us a really good position. I was actually 75 feet from the speakers at all times."

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With Senator Al Franken

Going in, Krumel knew that attending the convention would be a very different experience than watching at home. She says the day begins early. "In the mornings we have to get up and go to breakfast and have really great speakers." Krumel says to get a seat up front when the convention gavels into session at 4:30pm, you have to get to the floor early. "I would usually get there by one o'clock. And the TV people are there and my friends are there and the bands are warming up and you get to see the speakers and hear what's going on ahead of time. It's exciting the minute you get in there."

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As the convention began there were some pretty well publicized friction between the party and supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders which led to the resignation of Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Dianne Krumel was at the breakfast where Schultz was shouted down. "We knew something was going to happen because there was an enormous amount of press there. So Debbie Wasserman Schultz had come into the room and it was pretty out of control. The 'Bernie people' were there trying to get their voices heard. And I'm a supporter of Debbie Wasserman Schultz and we were there to support her as well. We just thought she deserved to have her say. And it was pretty tough." Once the 

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Senator Tim Kaine speaks at a morning breakfast session

  contentious breakfast session had ended, Krumel felt the mood of the convention begin to improve. "We could feel people coming together. Senator Saunders endorsing Hillary, we felt that was important. And as the days went on, more and more people were coming on board with Hillary and towards the end there were just a hand full of people that still held out for Senator Saunders. But for the most part we believed that we needed to come together and unify the party."

Dianne Krumel, who is the President of the Democratic Women’s Club in Escambia County and is the county’s State Committeewoman for the Florida Democratic Party said she was able to talk to Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as well as a lot of media. "I was interviewed [by reporters] from around the world. From South Africa, from Australia, from Germany and Poland and all around the United States [including] the Washington Post and New York Times. It could have had a lot to do with my hat! 

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And, as always, the final question is would she do it again? "In a heartbeat! In a heartbeat! I will pace myself next time because by Wednesday I had lost my voice from screaming so much."

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.