Many new faces as Democrats convene |

Many new faces as Democrats convene

LAS VEGAS – The platform committee began sorting through more than 300 potential platform planks Friday as the Democratic Party State Convention opened at the Riviera Hotel.

Party officials said they expect the large turnouts experienced in county conventions this year to carry forward into the state convention when business begins in earnest this morning. More than a third of the platform committee wasn’t at the initial meeting as members began reviewing civil rights and criminal justice planks.

Spokesman John Summers said more than 500 delegates were already registered – including large contingents from Washoe County, Carson City and other parts of the state outside Las Vegas.

Several officials from the north said not only do they expect a large turnout but a much larger number of young Democrats.

“I gave up the chance to be a delegate because there were so many dynamic young people there,” said Bonnie Parnell, who is running to reclaim the Carson City Assembly seat she retired from two years ago. “There are new faces, young faces getting involved and we need to grow their energy.”

Carson City chairman Jim Wallace said because of the enthusiastic number of younger people, the capital Democrats sent 32 new people “who’ve never been to a state convention” out of the 47 in the delegation.

“We had tremendous participation from a lot of new people,” he said.

Pam Drum, executive director of the Washoe Democrats, said they too have a lot of new and younger faces participating this year. Summers said more than 200 Washoe County Democrats have registered for the state convention.

“I’m very encouraged that young people are showing up, and I think we have to credit (former presidential candidate Howard) Dean,” said Drum.

Most of the convention business will take place today, including election of delegates to the national convention and finalizing the party platform. The keynote speaker today is Rep. John Lewis, of Georgia, a longtime civil rights leader and author of new civil-rights legislation.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who has been mentioned as a possible running mate for Sen. John Kerry, will attend.

The dinner speech will be given by Martin Sheen, a longtime activist for liberal causes who plays President Jed Bartlet on the TV series “West Wing.” He’ll present Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada with the state party’s Cannon Lifetime Achievement Award.

Contact Geoff Dornan at or at 687-8750.