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Prince Georgians Get on Board for Obama

Rosalind Helderman

Prominent Prince Georgians who supported Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) in her campaign for the presidency are now following her lead and announcing their support for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Il.)

Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D), a former delegate who lives in the county, jointly endorsed Obama with Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) on Saturday, just before Clinton formally told supporters at the National Building Museum that she was suspending her campaign.

"We have been honored and proud to support Senator Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign but now a hard-fought and history-making primary contest with record turnout has come to an end," read a joint release from the state's top two leaders.

"We must now come together as a party for the common good of our country's future to address the critical issues facing our nation."

State Sen. James C. Rosapepe (D-Prince George's), who served as an ambassador under President Clinton and was one of Sen. Clinton's most vigorous supporters in the county, said he attended her Saturday speech -- and then headed straight to an Obama event in the county attended by several hundred.

He said Clinton supporters are disappointed but he expects issues like high gas prices, a slowing economy and the national foreclosure crisis, to convince many to work hard to get Obama elected.

"There's always a bit of tension in a campaign -- it is a competition. People get excited at Redskins games too," he said. "But the presidency of the United States is more important than a football game. The majority of people understand this really is about our lives and our futures and our country."

Bowie City Council member Todd M. Turner said he's had to explain his support for Clinton to friends in Prince George's for months, given the county's overwhelming backing for Obama.
"You had to defend yourself for your selection," said Turner, who had worked for Clinton's 2000 senatorial campaign.

But Turner said he told those friends all along that he would support the party's nominee. That support comes a lot easier, he said, because Clinton now has backed Obama the same way she ran her own campaign -- "very hard, very enthusiastic."

Former Executive Wayne K. Curry, who was selected to be a pledged Clinton delegate at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, told Prince George's reporter Avis Thomas-Lester he found it "ironic" that "two people who would be natural allies found themselves working as adversaries because of their attractiveness to different parts of the traditional Democratic Party fabric."

"They both fought honorably and respectfully, but it is now time to unify the party and move to November," he said.

Del. Benjamin S. Barnes (D-Prince George's), another delegate pledged to Clinton, said it is too early to decide how he will cast his ballot in Denver. By suspending, but not formally ending her campaign, Clinton has not released her delegates. She is said to want her delegates to vote for her at the convention in recognition of the millions of Americans who supported her during the primary. Barnes said regardless how he casts his vote at the convention, he is now on board for Obama.

One convention delegate, County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D), who has endorsed both Clinton and Obama at different times in recent months, recently declared that he could not in good conscience go to the convention and not vote for Obama.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  June 9, 2008; 4:22 PM ET
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman  
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