Friday, April 18, 2008

Wyoming Dems gather in Jackson in May

The Wyoming Democratic Party state covention will be held in Jackson over Memorial Day weekend. Last spring, when I first found out about the site, I knew that Dems would be feverishly jockeying for those delegate spots, as (almost) everyone likes Jackson in the summer. A year ago, I had no idea that the competition for delegate slots would really heat up as Obama and Clinton battled for each warm body, including those lukewarm ones in Wyoming. In 2004, when I sauntered into the Laramie County Democrats' convention at the local VFW hall, I instantly was dubbed a delegate. That year, in fact, the LarCoDems fell short of its allotted 55 delegates to the state gathering. We had to drag people in off the streets.

This year is far different. The LarCoDems have 55 delegates -- me included -- hyped up for Jackson. There's also an equal number of alternates, my wife Chris being one of them. She's not happy being a Clinton alternate, as she'd like to be lobbying and voting for Hillary on the convention floor. But who knows -- there are sure to be drop-outs.

Travel costs may keep some Laramie County delegates at home. Jackson is in the state's oppositive corner, or kitty-corner, as my mom used to say. It's a 900-mile round trip, not counting side jaunts to Yellowstone. Lodging costs shoot up once you get to Memorial Day, the official launch of summer tourist season. The Wyoming Democrats got a great deal at the Snow King Resort (a Republican-owned establishment) for $79 per night. That's about half the summer rate. The bad news is that those rooms are now gone, or so one disgruntled delegate told me. Other $79 rates are available at the Inn at Jackson Hole in Teton Village, which is about eight miles from Jackson. Painted Buffalo Inn in Jackson is $110 per night. You can also book a studio room at the Snow King's condos for $138-$350 a night. There are four bedrooms per unit and it's reasonable if you can find some fellow Dems to share the costs. Our staff did that once for a work trip and it turned out cheaper than the Snow King's regular rates.

Not everyone likes Jackson in the summer. Most Wyomingites go during the shoulder seasons to avoid crowds. Problem is, those shoulder seasons are getting more narrow each year, as people try to avoid crowds and high prices.

Jackson holds it Old West Days festival during Memorial Day weekend. There's a parade on Saturday and a fair in the square, where you can buy food and wares from various vendors. I sold copies of our Wyoming literary anthology "Deep West" at the fair on the 2004 Memorial Day weekend. I periodically had to cover myself and my display as snow squalls blew through the valley. This year, I'll be inside a big hall jockeying to get Obama delegates elected for the national convention in Denver. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and activities start at 9. You can pay $50 for lunch, with proceeds going to the Wyoming Democrats. There's a dinner banquet at 7 that night. Tickets are $100 and, yes, proceeds go to you-know-who. It's important to raise funds in this election season. So much at stake. There's the presidential race, and all three of our Congressional seats are up for grabs. Then there are the state and local races. However, our budget won't bear a pricey lunch and a pricey dinner. One of those (probably dinner) Chris and I will be downtown at the Thai joint. Ain't it just like those elitist Democrats to eat foreign food!

Early registration (by May 15) is $25 for delegates and $15 for alternates. For info, call 1-800-729-3367.

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