SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s a tradition nearly as old as the country itself: The Party Convention. This year, Springfield’s MassMutual Center was home to the Massachusetts Democratic Convention. In Congress, Massachusetts is only represented by Democrats and while the Commonwealth historically votes blue, many residents don’t always vote along party lines.
“I think locally Republicans, Democrats mix in a little bit better, but nationally, it’s really hardcore. There’s very little compromise in Washington and I would hope there would be a lot more,” said Bill Foley, a delegate representing the First Hampden Hampshire District.
Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey voiced their battle cry, rallying hundreds of delegates to never break from party lines, reminding them of their party’s core values: workers rights, gay rights, gender equality, to name a few.
“We know what we fight for, are we willing to get out there and fight?” chanted Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Some years, the Massachusetts Democratic Convention involves a nomination process. This year, no nominations, just talk about the issues important to Democrats. And many delegates told 22News that was very important to them, just one year out from the presidential election.
“I think what we’ll see a lot this year and coming into next year is the difference between Republicans and Democrats and the vision for our country and being in Massachusetts, we of course are sort of the vanguard. We have initiated a lot of things that we see nationally,” Holyoke Representative Aaron Vega told 22News.
“I think we need to get in the spotlight in a positive way. I think you’re going to start to see that when we start to have more debates. The Republicans have done a great job in getting the public’s attention. We need to follow suit and we need to do it soon,” said Representative John Velis of Westfield.
While a convention can rally support for one party or another, delegates were reminded that the key to making change in the United States is bipartisan in nature: through each American’s vote.
The big-name Democratic candidates for president were not expected to be in attendance, but Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley all sent “surrogates,” or representatives to be there on their behalf. Clinton is being represented by former Vermont Governor and 2004 presidential candidate Howard Dean, Sanders has sent registered nurse Karen Higgins, and O’Malley is being represented by Boston City Councilor Matt O’Malley.
Doors to the convention opened at 7:30 A.M., and speeches began at 9:20.