An Interview With Michael Lysobey,Democratic Delegate from Berkeley By CHRISTOPHER KROHN

Special to the Planet
Friday August 06, 2004

Sitting far from the main stage and stretching out seemingly forever up the Fleet Center embankment, the 502-person California delegation at the Boston Democratic Convention was impressive in size, even if it was but a distant speck in the context of the swing state mania now sweeping the party. To put it bluntly, the California delegation was not very celebrated at this particular convention. Since the Golden State is not a swing state—Kerry leads by more than 10 points here—the royal treatment was rese rved for Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, and Iowa. These state delegations were treated with kid gloves during convention week 2004 and were seated almost on top of the speaker’s platform. All of these states are running neck-in-neck in the Bush-Kerry po l ls, and the DNC wanted to send these delegates home feeling like the outcome of the presidency is up to them.  

Some might even say Californians were shunned, but that’s not really the case. The money and people-power California has been providing for t he 21 swing states is enormous. In fact, speaking to California delegates were party favorites like the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, and Sen. Ted Kennedy. They all clearly understand California’s 55 electoral votes as well as its strategic imp ortance.  

Kennedy offered an impassioned, energetic address at the delegation’s breakfast meeting on the last day of the convention. He said a Kerry presidency will take California “very seriously. California represents the future of this country, it’s a special place,” said the one-time presidential candidate and senior senator from Massachusetts. Present at this gathering was Berkeley Kerry delegate, Michael Lysobey, a lawyer and father of a 3-month old girl. The Daily Planet caught up with Lysobey to find out what it was like being a delegate from the now politically lonesome state of California. 


Daily Planet: How did you get to become a delegate for John Kerry? 


Michael Lysobey: My big issue is foreign policy, and last summer I looked at the fiel d of candidates. I felt like we couldn’t have another four years of Bush, so I helped start a group, East Bay for Kerry. I’ve been working on Kerry’s campaign since the beginning. I then ran as a delegate for Kerry last spring, and here I am. 


DP: What ha ve Democrats said that impressed you…any speeches you particularly liked?  


ML: The speech President Carter gave I thought was most powerful. He comes across with moral authority. I think he’s regarded across the board for his honesty and integrity…and he sp oke about how foreign policy needs to be fixed. For him to say President Bush has erred and his misleading the country has left him unable to lead the nation…it’s important for people to hear that. Clinton too was awesome. (Illinois Senate candidate) Bara ck Obama gave an important speech. 


DP: Would you be a delegate again? 


ML: In a heart beat. To me this is truly the democratic process at work…to back someone I believe in personally, to campaign for him and then to end up here gives me hope in the democ ratic process. 


DP: Why is this convention even important? Didn’t everyone know Kerry was going to win the nomination, wasn’t it a done deal? 


ML: It’s a done deal that he’s the candidate, but it’s not a done deal that he can win the presidency. We need t o be here so he can win the presidency. 


DP: What did you do as a delegate in Boston? 


ML: The one thing you have to do is vote for the nominee. You also get special training as a delegate to see what you can do during the campaign…how to be a bett er camp aigner. We have a writer’s bureau, for example. We write op-eds for Kerry and send them to people in swing states so they can use them as templates to write their local newspapers. 


DP: You out there partying every night with delegates? 


ML: Not r eally. They work you pretty hard. There’s stuff going on all the time. I wake up early. 


DP: What’s the most difficult part of being here? 


ML: I have a 3-month old daughter and a wife and it’s hard to leave them.