Ashland delegates expect release tonight

Of the 4,069 delegates at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, three will come home to Ashland.

Delegates Milt Goldman and Myra Silverman have pledged votes to Sen. Clinton, while alternate Sharon Marler has pledged a vote for Sen. Obama. According to Goldman, Sen. Obama has the support of the Clinton camp.

"He is going to make an unbelievably wonderful president," Goldman said.

Five of Oregon's delegates hail from Jackson County, not including alternate Marler. County Democratic chairwoman Paulie Brading, County Commissioner David Gilmour and Obama campaign organizer Matthew Sutton, all pledged to Sen. Obama, will cast their votes today.

Goldman said he expects Sen. Clinton to release her delegates early this afternoon, following last night's primetime speech in which she voiced her support of Sen. Obama's campaign. During that speech, Clinton referred to herself as a "proud supporter" of Sen. Obama.

"It's not about us, it's about the country," Brading said.

Once formally released, Clinton's pledged delegates will be free to vote for Obama as the Democratic presidential nominee. Oregon state law requires delegates to obey their pledge unless they are formally released, according to Goldman.

Goldman said he and the other Clinton delegates carried signs that read "Obama" on one side and "unity" on the other to show their support for the Illinois senator. The Obama campaign Web site now features a "welcome Clinton supporters" sign-up page.

Each day for the delegates begins with a 7 a.m. breakfast meeting. Marler said five or six events take place every morning and afternoon during the convention. She said she attended a book reading and a meeting of the women's caucus in the first two days of the convention, in addition to watching the speeches of Michelle Obama and Sen. Edward Kennedy on Monday night.

"Michelle Obama's speech was just an incredible speech," she said.

Marler described Sen. Kennedy as "very robust" during his speech.

Vice presidential nominee Sen. Joe Biden will provide tonight's keynote speech. Other speakers will include Bill Clinton, Sen. John Kerry and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Tonight's program also includes a tribute to veterans and active military personnel from Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth and Rep. Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania.

The convention will conclude Thursday with Sen. Obama's acceptance speech at INVESCO Field. Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter Jr. will also speak.

Brading said the city of Denver put a great deal of effort into welcoming delegates. She said police officers and the light rail transit system have been very accommodating, and that security is very high for the event.

"You have to give the city of Denver a tip of the hat," she said.

According to Brading, none of Jackson County's delegates have ever attended a convention before. She said the energy of Monday's events increased throughout the evening as more well-known speakers took the stage and the band switched from mellow tunes to rock and roll.

"We're like deer in headlights," she said.

Brading said she misses her home state and looks forward to returning after the convention.

"I really love Oregon and I'll be happy to see my trees and my mountains," she said.

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