10th time at Democratic National Convention

Dr. T. Wayne Bailey, professor of Political Science, is attending his 10th Democratic National Convention.

Political Science Professor T. Wayne Bailey is an institution at Stetson University – and in politics.

Dr. Bailey is a friend of President Jimmy Carter, who gave a lecture at Stetson in 1992, and met Presidents Bill Clinton and Lyndon Johnson during their terms in office. He attended President Ronald Reagan’s inaugural ball and has been in the audience and close to President Barack Obama. And he is a close friend of former Vice President Al Gore, whose parents once attended the Model U.S. Senate at Stetson, staying in an apartment at the President’s House on campus.

A Democratic activist, Bailey represented Florida as a delegate at nine straight Democratic National Conventions – from 1972 to 2004. He was unable to attend in 2008, but this week he’s in North Carolina for his 10th Democratic National Convention.

Bailey will join Florida’s other delegates for all of the formal meetings at the convention, and when it’s time, he’ll participate in the largely symbolic vote to nominate President Obama as the Democrats’ candidate in November. If Obama wins Florida in November, Bailey will cast an electoral vote in Tallahassee in December as one of the state’s 29 Democratic electors.

“The convention events are really rather intensive – there are receptions and seminars, gatherings for different groups such as teachers, unions, entrepreneurs. I will meet many of the national journalists and network people, spreading the Stetson University word,” Bailey said. “The object is to fire up the base. I feel a lot of excitement!”

Attending both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions this year are four Stetson students: Jeff Sayer ’13, Ben Trigani ’15, Jessica Rios ’13 and Tabea Wanniger ’15. The students plan to put together a forum before the general election to discuss the candidates and what they observed at the conventions, Sayer said. They attended last month’s RNC and are attending this week’s DNC at the invitation of Stetson alumna Ashley Bolding, who works for The Atlantic in Washington, D.C.

Stetson students, from left, Jeff Sayer, Ben Trigani, Tabea Wanniger and Jessica Rios attended the Republican National Convention (shown at the RNC in Tampa) in August and are at the Democratic National Convention this week.

“It is an opportunity to experience politics as it’s happening, in person, on the nation’s biggest stages,” Sayer said. “This is a year that has the potential to be a turning point in our nation’s history with major topics in immigration, health care and dealing with an astronomical debt crisis. This next president will leave a lasting impact and being able to be around our nation’s leaders, as we elect that person for candidacy, will be truly amazing.”

Bailey, who has just begun his 50th year of teaching at Stetson, also plans to bring his experience back to students. This semester, he’s teaching an upper-division seminar on the American Presidency. Bailey and his students are watching both conventions; they will compare the two nominating processes and the two conventions are part of the course. The professor will be one of the few political scientists at the DNC; most delegates are business people.

Grassroots politics is a main approach for the Democrats this year, and the delegates will go home fired up to be recruiters, campaigners and neighborhood representatives. “The convention is a time that allows you to connect with like-minded activists,” Bailey said.

Bailey is obviously an Obama supporter, but he sees tough work ahead whether Obama is re-elected or Republican challenger Mitt Romney wins.

“I’m impressed that President Obama has accomplished so much in the face of so strong a headwind,” Bailey said. “Speaking as a political scientist, some of the issues we’re dealing with are structural issues. They didn’t begin in 2008 and they won’t be solved in 2012. These are matters any president will have to deal with in the next term.”

Read more about Bailey’s 10th trip to the DNC in the Sept. 2 Daytona Beach News-Journal.