Democrats to highlight 17 'rising stars' in convention keynote

(Reuters) – The Democratic Party will highlight 17 young politicians it considers “rising stars,” including one-time vice presidential hopeful Stacey Abrams, on Tuesday, the second night of the party’s nominating convention.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced the party to reinvent the convention format, scrapping crowds and balloons in Milwaukee in favor of virtual events televised from around the country.

The 17-person keynote spreads the spotlight often used to highlight one person as millions are expected to tune in to the expected formal nomination of former Vice President Joe Biden.

President Barack Obama’s 2004 speech about overcoming partisan division introduced Americans to the then-Illinois state senator. He became the party’s presidential nominee, with Biden as his running mate, four years later.

“This year’s Keynote Address will feature not one, but seventeen of the Democratic Party’s rising stars from all across the country,” Democratic organizers said in a statement on Sunday. “These young electeds will offer a diversity of different ideas and perspectives on how to move America forward, but they will all speak to the future we’re building together.”

The choices are aimed at highlighting the racial, ethnic and gender diversity of the party. Abrams, a Black politician who lost a close governor’s race in Georgia and now focuses on voting rights, was considered as a running mate for Biden before he picked Senator Kamala Harris.

Also speaking during the keynote will be Navajo Nation president Jonathan Nez; Nevada State Senator Yvanna Cancela, who is of Cuban descent and helped engineer Biden’s second-place finish in that closely-contested state’s Democratic caucus; Florida’s agriculture commissioner, Nikki Fried, who is the first woman to hold that position; and Representative Conor Lamb, the Pennsylvania politician who won a “swing” district and helped Democrats seize control of the House of Representatives in 2018.

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