A TALE OF TWO CONVENTIONS
Wednesday, 12 September 2012 12:29

Dundalk resident Steve Dishon saw many Republican dignitaries at the Republican National Convention, including former presidential candidate Herman Cain.

Dundalk is represented in Tampa, Charlotte

Dundalkians took part in both parties’ national conventions in recent weeks. Ben Boehl reports on Steve Dishon, who served as an alternate in Tampa, Fla. Immediately following is Bill Gates’ story on Democratic Del. John Olszewski Jr. in Charlotte, N.C.

Dishon: “We felt unified”

by Ben Boehl

The Republican National Convention saw a representative from Dundalk as local resident Steve Dishon was elected in the April primary to serve as an alternate delegate at the party’s convention, held in Tampa during the last week of August.
    Dishon, who also ran as a Republican for The Maryland House of Delegates in the 6th District in 2006, said he was the only Republican in eastern Baltimore County that got to serve as a delegate.
    “It was a packed house and was filled with positive energy,” Dishon said. After a hotly contested GOP primary, he said, “Everyone was on the same page, and we felt unified” behind presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
    According to Dishon, the consensus in the Republican Party is that Romney has the best chance to defeat President Barack Obama and that Romney should have been selected to face Obama back in 2008.
    “If Mitt wasn’t a Mormon, he would have won (the Republican nomination) four years ago. But that stigma (of his religion) went away.” Dishon said. “Gov. Romney has instilled his life in people. It’s hard to be humble and defend yourself at the same time.”
    One of the more interesting moments at the convention was Clint Eastwood’s speech. Dishon said the delegates on the floor were excited about Eastwood and admitted it was an unpredictable moment.
    “It was totally ad-libbed. We keep looking at the teleprompter and it was blank. It was working for other people, but it wasn’t on for him,” Dishon recalled. “But he was right. Barack Obama is a nice guy, but he has no experience.”
    There were great opportunities to meet with national Republican heavyweights, and Dishon took advantage, as he met former presidential candidate Herman Cain, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.       
    Watching the convention from the floor, Dishon believed that Condoleezza Rice “hit a home run” as he felt she gave one of the best speeches in the convention as she talked about the condition of inner-city schools across the country.
    He also got to see how the media reacted to the convention.
    “I keep watching all the people in the CNN booth. They keep turning their chairs away and wouldn’t face the speakers,” Dishon added. “They did turn around when Clint Eastwood and Gov. Romney spoke.”

 

Olszewski used opportunity to forge relationships

by Bill Gates

    When you’re the incumbent party, your national convention to nominate a presidential candidate is a simple exercise.
    “Yeah, we went with a real long-shot candidate, for sure,” Del. John Olszewski Jr. (6th District) joked after returning from last week’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
    (Spoiler: President Barack Obama will get the opportunity to repeat his 2008 success.)
    Still, that doesn’t mean the convention was time better spent elsewhere.
    “There was a lot going on,” Olszewski said. “I was really tired afterwards.”
    Sounds like he could have used some time at the “Oasis” sponsored by the Huffington Post, which featured massages, meditation, yoga, breath work and healthy food and drinks.
    “For the record, I did not go there,” Olszewski said.
    He was too busy taking advantage of the opportunities presented at the convention.
    “Obviously, it was an honor to have the opportunity to meet so many influential, important decision-makers from across the country,” Olszewski said. “I interacted with folks from all over. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
    Olszewski was elected to be a delegate to the convention from the 2nd Congressional District.
    While he agreed there is a certain drama missing from a convention where the nominee is already a given, Olszewski believes the national convention is still important.
    “There is a certain predeterminism, but there is still value in interacting with leader from all over the country.
    “There is a pretty strong value in letting both partes have the opportunity for their nominees to speak to the country and present their platform and message.”
    Plus, he got to see Scarlett Johansson speak in person.
    Among the people Olszewski met at the convention was Tammy Duckworth, a decorated former Army helicopter pilot and one of the first Army women to fly combat missions in Iraq, who lost both her legs when her chopper was shot down in Iraq in 2004.  She is a candidate for Congress in Illinois.
    Olszewski also met civil rights icon John Lewis, a leader of the Freedom Riders movement and the 1963 March on Washington, who is now a 13-term congressman from Georgia.
    “I met leaders from all over the country and developed deeper ties with Maryland leaders,” Olszewski said. “It’s useful for our district.
    “Relationships drive success, and these deeper ties can be beneficial for eastern Baltimore County.  I will take advantage of these opportunities, and make full use of these relationships.”