Democrats to highlight 17 ‘rising stars’ in convention keynote

Stacey Abrams (D), former gubernatorial candidate for Georgia, speaks at the 2019 National Action Network National Convention in New York, April 3, 2019. (REUTERS)

Democrats will highlight 17 young politicians they consider “rising stars,” including one-time vice presidential hopeful Stacey Abrams, on Tuesday, the second night of the party’s nominating convention.

The coronavirus pandemic forced the party to reinvent the convention, scrapping crowds and balloons in Milwaukee in favor of virtual events televised from around the country.

The 17-person keynote spreads the spotlight typically used to highlight one person as millions are expected to tune in to the scheduled formal nomination of former Vice President Joe Biden.

President Barack Obama’s 2004 speech about overcoming partisan division introduced Americans to the then-Illinois state senator. He became the party’s presidential nominee, with Biden as his running mate, four years later.

“These young electeds will offer a diversity of different ideas and perspectives on how to move America forward, but they will all speak to the future we’re building together,” Democratic organizers said in a statement on Sunday.

The choices are aimed at displaying the party’s racial, ethnic and gender diversity. Abrams, a Black politician who lost a close Georgia governor’s race and now focuses on voting rights, was considered a possible running mate for Biden before he picked Senator Kamala Harris.

Also speaking during the keynote will be Navajo Nation president Jonathan Nez; Nevada State Senator Yvanna Cancela, who is of Cuban descent and helped engineer Biden’s second-place finish in that closely-contested state’s Democratic caucus; Florida’s agriculture commissioner, Nikki Fried, who is the first woman to hold that position; and Representative Conor Lamb, who won a Pennsylvania “swing” district that helped Democrats seize control of the House of Representatives in 2018.

Security crews on Sunday installed tall black security fences around the Wisconsin Center, the formal site of the convention, though there will be minimal presence there this week. The fencing and some lamppost banners were among the limited evidence in sparsely populated downtown Milwaukee that the convention is taking place.

 

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