Delegating for Hillary: President of College Democrats may become repeat delegate

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Gillian Dunlop

Once told he would never succeed in politics, Ed O’Brien ‘16 said he used that doubt to fuel his political passion and that there is now a strong possibility that he will become a delegate for Hillary Clinton at the upcoming Democratic National Convention (DNC).

Although the official results of the elections for Pa. delegates and alternate delegates are not expected to be completed until at least mid-May, O’Brien said the number of votes he received puts him in a “strong position” to join the DNC this year.

Pennsylvania’s 17th congressional district, in which O’Brien ran, has seven delegates, who will vote on the presidential nominee for the democratic party in the fourth week of July.

Since Clinton won the primary election for democrats in Pennsylvania, she was awarded with four delegates, while Bernie Sanders was awarded with three. With 38,000 votes, O’Brien came in third place out of four delegate spots for the Clinton party.

Should he become a delegate, O’Brien’s responsibilities will include going on conference calls, attending seminars and working out logistical issues such as scheduling, he said. Ultimately, his main job will to be submit his vote for Clinton.

Having previously served as a delegate at the 2008 DNC when he was 18 years old, O’Brien has had a lot of political experience since his arrival at Lafayette. He became president of College Democrats at Lafayette and president of the Pennsylvania Federation of College Democrats.

O’Brien said the Democratic party asked him to change his voting registration from his home state of New Jersey to Pennsylvania. This was so he could assist the Hillary Clinton campaign in Pennsylvania. He said he did not think he was going to be the delegate candidate until the first day of spring semester.

“I’m a young person, which is a group the Democratic party wants represented at the convention,” O’Brien said.

“I decided to become a delegate, because I think young people need to have a voice in the Democratic National Convention,” O’Brien said. “I decided to become a delegate for Hillary Clinton, because I believe in her strategies and in her policy. I also believe in her electability as a general election candidate against the Republicans.”

He said that this convention is “going to be a transformative time” for the Democrats, who need to unite against “a Republican party that poses to take back a lot of the progress the Obama administration” has enacted.

O’Brien credits much of his experience at Lafayette for helping him develop his political views and perspectives.

“[The College Republicans] deserve a lot of credit in helping me recognize the importance of working together,” he said. “I think it’s lost in our political dialogue that these are not the opposition, these are our partners.”

As a policy studies major, O’Brien got involved in the political scene at Lafayette when he participated in the 2012 election coverage put on by the policy studies department and the television channel PBS39.

“Ed has such a drive to be engaged in the political process and he pursues that like no student I’ve ever seen,” O’Brien’s advisor and Professor of Policy Studies Mark Crain said.

“To become a delegate in Pennsylvania required a lot of effort on his part and I really admire his determination, time, effort and skill,” he added. “It’s a relatively complex process in becoming a delegate.”

Although O’Brien has not officially been announced delegate, he said he is honored to even be given the opportunity.

“It’s really, truly humbling because residents of the PA 17th congressional have put their trust in me,” he said. “It’s up to me to do the best I can and I think I am well equipped from my experience and perspective.”