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For Arizona delegates in Charlotte, interests vary but goal is the same

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Trailed by her husband, Mikel, who carried a pink guitar case bearing the message “Tell the Right They’re WRONG,” Beth Weisser of Kingman arrived Sunday to serve as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

In addition to looking forward to supporting education as a teacher, she relished the prospect of being around like-minded people, as Republicans vastly outnumber Democrats in Mohave County.

She is running for state Senate, while her husband, also a teacher, is running as a Democrat for the U.S. House.

“Where we live, you don’t see a blue sky, you see a red sky,” Beth Weisser said. “To be around honest Democrats and progressives and talk politics and policy, it recharges the batteries.”

And so it went as dozens of delegates checked into the Hilton Garden Inn Charlotte/Ayrsley to begin a week of state delegation breakfasts, caucus and council meetings and events on the convention floor.

Sandra Kennedy, a member of Arizona Corporation Commission, said she’ll focus as a delegate on women’s issues, seniors and health care.

“When you look at where Congress has gone in the last two years, women’s and senior issues have been on the back burner,” Kennedy said. “Our voices are not being heard. Men who want to force their beliefs on our rights is not what we want to see.”

Virgel Cain, a delegate from Cave Creek, arrived with his wife, Marcia, and wearing a T-shirt reading “Veteran and military families for Obama.” Having served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, he said veterans’ and women’s issues are paramount.

Cain, who is unemployed after working in retail, praised President Barack Obama for scaling back the war in Iraq and offering “a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel in Afghanistan.”

Frank Camacho, spokesman for the Arizona Democratic Party, said the convention allows the state’s Democrats to reconnect with their national brethren and reminds them why they’re Democrats. Despite Republicans holding majorities in the state Legislature, the congressional delegation and the governor’s office, Arizona may well wind up electing a Democratic U.S. senator and Democratic majority in the U.S. House, he said.

“The fact that we even see it as a realistic opportunity dispels any notion that Arizona is strictly a red state,” Camacho said.

Richard Carmona, the former U.S. surgeon general opposing U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake for Senate, isn’t scheduled to attend the convention. Neither are Kyrsten Sinema and Ann Kirkpatrick, who are considered to have good chances of winning U.S. House seats in Arizona’s redrawn congressional districts.

Sharon Stewart, a retiree from Phoenix, said she wants to leave ready to help Democrats win in November.

“I hope to get the kind of information needed to fire up voters,” she said.

Stewart said she’s always happy to spend time in the company of Arizona Democrats, a group she called just as engaged as its Republican counterpart.

“It is vibrant,” she said, “just smaller.”