Local Kerry off to Boston to back Kerry

Elizabeth Kerry is one of 88 Missourians at the Democratic National Convention.
Monday, July 26, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:34 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 4, 2008

Her last name attracts attention. Columbia resident Elizabeth Kerry said everyone, right down to the cashier at her grocery store checkout line, wants to know if she’s related to Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic Party’s presumed candidate for president.

She’s not. So, Elizabeth Kerry, a lifelong Democrat, has coined an answer for the curious.

“I say I wasn’t related before he was nominated, but now I am,” she says. John Kerry is her choice for president.

Elizabeth Kerry is one of Missouri’s 88 delegates to the Democratic National Convention, which starts today in Boston. Kerry has been involved in politics for most of her life, but this is her first national convention.

Other Columbia district delegates to the convention include Boone County Collector Patricia Lensmeyer, pledged to John Kerry, and Fred Hicks, pledged to John Edwards.

Missouri Democratic Party

Missouri is allotted a total of 88 delegates, 74 of which are pledged to particular candidates. Delegate selection is a lengthy process, but guidelines issued by the Missouri Democratic Party for 2004 say that all who wished to become a delegate could apply at local selection meetings as long they were at least 18 years old, living in the district they sought to represent and were self-declared Democrats who voted in the primary election. Potential delegates from all over the state moved up through multiple selection rounds until finalists were chosen.

Elizabeth Kerry has always been active in the Democratic Party.

In the 1960s, she worked as a volunteer for John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidential campaigns, and she was a staff member for George McGovern’s presidential run in 1972. A native Texan, Elizabeth Kerry also worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative aide to Texas Democrats from 1972 to 1980.

“I feel that the Democratic Party represents the everyday person, and I feel that the Republican Party comes at things through big business and through corporate philosophies — but there are good people in both parties, I’m sure,” she said.

Elizabeth Kerry is pledged to Sen. John Edwards, who recently joined Sen. John Kerry’s campaign as John Kerry’s vice presidential candidate. John Kerry and John Edwards both received more than 15 percent of Missouri’s primary votes – enough to qualify each for a proportional number of pledged delegates at the national convention, according to state party guidelines.

Other candidates ask for Kerry vote from delegates

John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee, will not officially take that role until after the delegates vote. He was allotted the most pledged delegates based on his success in the primaries and is expected to receive the majority of delegate votes. The Associated Press reported last week that most of the other Democratic candidates who received delegates, including John Edwards, will ask their delegates to cast votes for John Kerry.

Elizabeth Kerry said her political activism has centered more on issues than on candidates during the last few years, but recent events such as the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the war in Iraq inspired her to get more involved in individual campaigns.

Elizabeth Kerry is a member of Columbia’s League of Women Voters. She participates in various social forums, including the annual “Let’s Talk, Columbia,” a meeting of residents to discuss personal and political issues. She also meets with a breakfast group of Columbia mothers who discuss local education.

For the last two decades, Elizabeth Kerry’s main focus has been her grandson, whom she raised from infancy — he’s now a junior at MU. She said that experience has kept her more in touch with younger generations. Most of her friends are now mothers of other 18- and 19-year-olds, parents of her grandson’s friends. Elizabeth Kerry said she feels a little out of place with her senior citizen peers. “Retired” is just not a word that suits her yet, she said.

Mo. Kerry hoping for unity

At the convention this week, Elizabeth Kerry said she hopes to see the party unite behind one candidate, bringing in factions that splintered off during the primary season. She also wants bring back a bit of what she sees and hears in Boston to those in Columbia who seem interested.

Scott Cristal, secretary of the Boone County Democratic Central Committee, said the national convention is an opportunity for Democrats all across the country to rally together around one candidate. Cristal said he’s noticed an increase compared to past years in the number of people who are already expressing enthusiasm for getting involved in the election.

The Boone County Democrat Central Committee is planning a Convention Watch Party for 8 p.m. Thursday at their headquarters, 916 E. Walnut. John Kerry is expected to accept the party’s nomination that night.

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