-- The Outer Banks may be in the same state as this city, but amid the
hub-bub and hustle at the Democratic National Convention that kicked
off on Tuesday, the barrier islands may as well have been across the
“The Outer Banks?” asked a Charlotte resident enjoying some convention
sight-seeing. “That’s worse than getting to Chicago -- you have to go
back and around.”
‘I’ve never been and people say it’s their favorite place on Earth,”
said Linda Gutin, a Raleigh resident for four years. “If the
Republicans win, I may never get the chance.”
Gutin, a self-described “failed comedian,” wore a bumper sticker
plastered across her chest: “Get Out Dem Votes. Being Right Has Never
Been So Wrong.”
Two delegates from Dare County made good use of the free-wheeling
camaraderie at the three-day event -- a flash melding of thousands of
delegates, lobbyists, journalists, lawmakers, and political staff from
all over the country -- to keep the northeast on the North Carolina
radar screen with nonstop networking and back-and-forth information
“I like to think myself and the delegates from the East are the
cheerleaders for the northeast to the rest of the state,” said Chris
Hardee, a Manteo resident and one of the Democratic delegates chosen to
represent the state’s Third Congressional District. “We’ve got to get
the word out.”
Hardee cited one gathering sponsored by a marine manufacturer that was pertinent to coastal issues and economic development.
Susan Harman-Scott, a delegate from Nags Head, said a session that was
sponsored by Raleigh-based North Carolina Sustainable Energy
Association got her wheels turning about the potential of clean energy
manufacturing to create new jobs in the region.
In 2011, according to the nonprofit association, clean energy firms had
physical offices in 87 counties of the state, with a focus on
development of energy production from wind, solar, biomass, geothermal
and hydroelectric. New Hanover County alone has 85 offices, the
seventh highest number in the state.
“That’s providing a growing number of jobs and business opportunities
in our state and in our region,” Harman-Scott said. “I was the
only one from the East who came to this meeting. Everybody else is
cashing in on this except us.”
Not unlike the high energy and camaraderie that people share on the
coast when there’s a storm coming, the atmosphere at the convention,
the first ever held in North Carolina, was notably friendly, no doubt
burnishing the polite Southern reputation nationwide.
Law enforcement from practically every corner of the country and every
police agency --including many Secret Service agents -- lined the
streets. They were invariably courteous and helpful. Even a showdown
with protesters on Tuesday was subdued, with dozens of police in riot
gear calmly telling onlookers to stay back while they kept an eye on
the protesters who were blocking the street.
Strangers openly shared personal tidbits about their lives while
waiting in gridlocked traffic on the shuttle buses to the convention
center. With no fear of starting a fight or offending, everyone seemed
to delight in telling political jokes.
“Welcome, welcome!” Ron Sanyal, a state executive delegate committee
member, said to delegates as they boarded the shuttle while he handed
them donated hand sanitizer. “Okay ---sanitize from the Republicans!”
An upbeat and outgoing man, Sanyal took pains to make sure his friend
could get her wheelchair onto the bus and watched to ensure passengers
did not have their seats blocked.
In a later interview, Sanyal, who is 63, said he moved to Raleigh from
India in 1976. “This is my American dream,” he said about attending the
Sanyal said he has seen North Carolina from “the mountains to the sea,”
including Dare County. “I’ve been to the Outer Banks,” he said. “I love
Every morning, each state’s delegation meets for breakfast to be
regaled by different Democratic speakers. On Wednesday, the stars
included Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, who is running for governor; Linda
Coleman, who is running for lieutenant governor, and a surprise
appearance by Rev. Jesse Jackson.
“I am from Eastern North Carolina -- Greenville --- so I do know what
it’s like east of I-95,” Coleman said in an interview.
She said that she plans to visit the Outer Banks soon to learn more
about the renewable energy potential on the coast. “There should be
some opportunity because there are jobs that have not yet been created.
I think that North Carolina can become a leader in that respect.”
Tonight, the delegates will hear a speech by former President Bill
Clinton, and tomorrow night, President Barack Obama and Vice-President
Joe Biden will accept their party’s nomination.