We’re trying to find some historic parallels following Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Rep. Nick Rahall’s decision to skip their party’s national convention.
Kyle Kondik, a political analyst at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, suggested looking at convention walkouts in 1964 and 1972. But, he notes, those were convention-goers who went and then left, which is different from never going at all.
But here’s a curious item from the Daily Mail archives:
BYRD NOT SAD TO MISS DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION
Publication: THE CHARLESTON DAILY MAIL
Published: Friday, August 30, 1996
Byline: CHRIS STADELMAN
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS – After outlasting nine presidents during his tenure in Congress, Sen. Robert C. Byrd knows he doesn’t have to impress the current one.
That being the case, Byrd opted to attend the West Virginia Business Summit instead of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
Byrd’s remarks Thursday ended about the time President Clinton began his.
(Of note: the author, Chris Stadelman, is now Tomblin’s campaign spokesman. I found the article by searching our archives after a recent conversation I had with a long time political observer — it was not recommended to me by Stadelman.)
Here’s more from an Aug. 16, 1996 account in The Charleston Gazette:
Byrd has bypassed nearly all of the state Democratic Party’s functions, preferring instead to attend events like Friday’s “topping off” ceremony of the new Federal Building and Courthouse in Charleston.
The $80 million building is a symbol of Byrd’s abiding interest in recent years – promoting West Virginia infrastructure.
“I didn’t get to watch much of the convention,” Byrd said after the ceremony. “I’ve been attending so many functions. From what I hear, it went all right.” Byrd cited a list of events, including the dedication of a federal building in Beckley and a tribute to himself at the Chamber of Commerce’s summit at The Greenbrier.
He also said he has been working on legislation in Washington.
But Byrd said he supports Clinton and [Democratic Party candidate for state governor Charlotte] Pritt. “I’m a Democrat and I support the ticket,” he said.
A couple more notes:
- In the past half hour or so, I’ve seen both a conservative Republican and a liberal Democrat call both Manchin and Tomblin “cowards” for their decision. Rahall, unlike Manchin or Tomblin, has said he supports Obama. Manchin and Tomblin have hedged their bets.
- State Democratic Party Chairman Larry Puccio doesn’t want too much to be read into the decisions to skip the convention: “I think you’ll find in both parties that when they can make it they go, but, especially during campaign time, when they are campaigning, they are more apt to stay home and work with the folks and this year, it being over Labor Day weekend, their schedules have many, many events that they feel necessary that they be there.”