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POLITICS

Barone: Dem lawmakers duck party convention

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Politics,Michael Barone,Campaign 2012,Politics Digest

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The two major parties' national conventions ordinarily are gatherings of officeholders from across the nation. But as the Democratic National Convention assembles in Charlotte -- the 46th in a series that goes back to 1832 -- there are likely to be a lot of members of Congress missing.

Their numbers include North Carolina Rep. Larry Kissell, whose district has included much of metropolitan Charlotte. Republican redistricters removed many heavily Democratic precincts, and he evidently doesn't want to be associated with the Obama-Biden ticket, which is highly unlikely to carry his new district.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., whose 2010 campaign featured an ad showing him shooting a bullet through a copy of the Democrats' cap-and-trade bill, won't be there this year as he seeks a full term. Nor will Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., whose state came close to voting for Barack Obama in 2008, but is expected to vote strongly for Mitt Romney this year.

House members who will be absent include David Loebsack and Leonard Boswell of Iowa -- a state which Obama carried easily in 2008, but where he spent four days campaigning in recent weeks, a sign his campaign believes he has been slipping there.

Also missing will be Rep. Mark Critz, D-Pa., from the coal country of southwest Pennsylvania, where Obama's positions on energy issues are unpopular.

Even members from heavily Democratic New York and California don't plan to show up. Upstate New Yorkers Bill Owens, Kathy Hochul and Louise Slaughter will concentrate on campaigning in districts that court-ordered redistricting made somewhat less Democratic.

Out in coastal California, Rep. Lois Capps will be conducting convention watching parties. Since the big speeches will be over about 8:00 p.m. Pacific time, there will be plenty of time for a leisurely dinner in Santa Barbara.

In mid-July, when congressional Democrats began announcing they would shun Charlotte, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said it was fine for members to stay home. "I'm not encouraging members to go to the convention no matter what the situation was, because they can be home," she told Politico. "It's campaign time. It's the first week in September."

And while some prominent Hollywood figures will be visible at convention parties, don't look for San Fernando Valley Reps. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman. Under a new California law, the two Democrats finished in the top two in the all-party primary and will face each other in November.

Some candidates for Congress will be there. Iraq War veteran and Asian-American Tammy Duckworth, who is attempting with the help of favorable district lines to oust one-term Illinois Tea Party Republican Joe Walsh (who skipped the Republican convention in Tampa, Fla.), will be speaking from the podium.

And Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, who helped inspire and set up the new Consumer Protection Bureau, will have a prime speaking spot there, as well.

mbarone@washingtonexaminer.com

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