Party conventions important for Mississippi leaders

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - As local and state politics merge with those on the national scene for a presidential election, the place to be for Mississippi's political leaders is their party's national convention.

"If you think of the presidential campaign as a football game. The conventions are actually the pep rallies," said Mississippi Democratic Party Chairman Rickey Cole. "This is how we get the troops fired up."

Cole is among the more than 100 member delegation from the Magnolia State in Charlotte, North Carolina this week as the party rallies to keep the Obama-Biden ticket in the White House.

"We believe that the president's message of expanding the middle class and building an economy for the 21st century that will provide prosperity for all Americans is a message that will resonant coming out of this convention," said Cole.

With 45 delegates also at the convention, Cole said Mississippi is well represented, but it didn't happen without some last minute changes. Hattiesburg's democratic mayor, Johnny DuPree, canceled his trip in the wake of Hurricane Isaac.

That was also the case for many of the state's top republicans.

"All of the convention plans blew out the window with Isaac," said Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.

Hosemann was one of the state's top elected republicans set to show up at the Republican National Convention last week in Tampa, Florida.  In fact, just about every statewide republican was supposed to be there. From Governor Phil Bryant to Agricultural Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith, travel plans were put on hold and canceled.

For Hosemann, it's become a common occurrence.

"This is the second time this has happened. Four years ago Governor Barbour and I had to stay here. I just don't think I'm going to get to a convention the way it's going," said Hosemann.

While office holders were sidelined, delegates from Mississippi did make the trip and so did the state's republican party chairman, Joe Nosef. Those delegates are just as fired up about the Romney-Ryan ticket and plan to bring the presidential battle to Mississippi's doorstep.

Regardless of party, Cole said Mississippi needs to be a driving force in November.

"Mississippi is a small state and we need to always have a loud and strong voice in both political parties," said Cole.

Copyright 2012 WLBT. All rights reserved.