CHARLOTTE — — One in a series of profiles of Maryland delegates to the Democratic National Convention.
Jennifer Hosey was 7 years old the first time she volunteered for a presidential campaign — stuffing and stamping envelopes for Bill Clinton's 1992 run.
She has volunteered in every election since.
The Potomac resident, now 27, grew up around politics. Her mom was a longtime Democratic Party volunteer. As a student, Hosey was always looking for ways to do more for the party. This year, she is attending her first national convention and, as a delegate, formally casting a vote for President Barack Obama's nomination.
"It's important for voters at home to see the variety of different people that the party chooses to represent them," said Hosey, who works as a researcher for a former politician from Bolivia. "It's not just that a couple of people in a backroom are choosing these people — they're people that all of the delegates feel represent them."
That's an especially important point for Hosey, who is Hispanic. She said the party's decision to prominently feature Latino leaders here has sent a powerful message. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro became the first Hispanic to give a keynote address at a Democratic convention on Tuesday. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is the convention's chairman.
Both parties are actively courting Latinos. Republicans featured Florida Sen. Marco Rubio as a speaker at their convention last week, for instance. But polling shows Obama, who recently unveiled a more lenient immigration enforcement policy, has an advantage among Latino voters. If that holds, it could become an important factor in competitive states like Florida and Colorado.
Hosey, who interned for the late Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy in 2008, said she believes Democrats have simply done a better job making Hispanics feel welcome.
"The party is deliberately and sincerely making them feel like they're more a part of the American fabric — that their dreams are the American dreams," she said. "The common threads of the family story are common to people of all backgrounds, including Hispanics."