Tropical Storm Isaac Delays Republican National Convention
Sen. Allen Kittleman (R-Howard) is among those talking about what's going on in Tampa.
By Caitlin Johnston, CAPITAL NEWS SERVICE
TAMPA, FL—Maryland delegates continued to arrive in Tampa, FL, Sunday afternoon as Tropical Storm Isaac brewed overhead and Republican National Convention (RNC) officials scrambled to trim the four-day program down to three.
More than 160 Maryland politicians, delegates and political activists anticipated a week of politics, networking and sightseeing, but Tropical Storm Isaac forced RNC officials to cancel Monday's first day of events.
Despite the shifts, delegates said they are flexible and eager to achieve their main goal: nominating Mitt Romney and preparing for the fall campaign.
"Weather forecast is not dampening the spirits in Tampa," Sen. Allen Kittleman (R-Howard) posted on Twitter Sunday morning. "Proud to be a member of the Maryland Delegation to the GOP National Convention."
Louis Pope, Republican National Committeeman for Maryland, echoed the sentiment.
"You're going to get a little wet, your hair might not be perfect, but the message is still a clear message, and that's to defeat Barack Obama and elect Mitt Romney," said Pope.
Maryland GOP 2nd Vice Chairman Larry Helminiak said the state delegation was holding a meeting later to determine whether to change or cancel some planned events. Until then, the delegates said all they can do is be flexible and wait to hear the next move.
Though there are no Marylanders on the bill for any of the main speeches, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell will address the convention.
The importance of the convention isn't necessarily the events that happen during the week, Maryland GOP Chairman Alex Mooney said, but the energy that delegates leave with and their willingness to inject that into campaigns back home.
"It's too easy for conservatives and Republicans in Maryland to decide not to participate because we haven't won statewide since Bob Ehrlich," Mooney said. "But when they go to this convention...they come back really super charged and [ready] to work hard through November and spread the vision."
In addition to participating in the votes, platform confirmation, and daily schedule of speeches, the Maryland delegation will take time to host events of their own and explore the Tampa Bay area.
Maryland's delegation includes 18 members of the state legislature: 14 members of the House of Delegates and four state senators. The remaining delegates are long-time party activists, many who have been involved for at least a decade, Pope said. The cohort includes former politicians, lawyers and the official merchandise provider for the convention. Pope said there was some effort to balance the delegation by gender and diversity, but also to reward people who have been working with the party for years.
"It's is kind of a who's who in the Republican Party," Pope said. "There are very few people, maybe two or three, who joined the party and have been working in the party after 2010."
Capital News Service Staff Writer Matt McNab contributed to this report.