Keynote candidates and no-shows: Who we talk about when we talk about political conventions

Political Theater, Episode 141

Army veteran Sean Parnell, the Republican nominee for Pennsylvania’s 17th District, addresses the GOP convention on Monday. (Courtesy the Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Convention via Getty Images)
Army veteran Sean Parnell, the Republican nominee for Pennsylvania’s 17th District, addresses the GOP convention on Monday. (Courtesy the Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Convention via Getty Images)
Jason Dick
Posted August 26, 2020 at 8:25pm

One of the few things that is not different about this year’s political conventions is that the parties are providing valuable national airtime to candidates for Congress they want to see succeed. Who shows up — and who doesn’t — provides context for those House and Senate races, even if some of that context is, quite frankly, mystifying.

The candidates get exposure and are linked to the spectacle of the convention, the parties’ most fervent supporters and the presidential nominee.

Not everyone wants that. Sometimes the candidate wants to appeal to voters who don’t really like what the party stands for, or who the nominee is. There’s a long, rich history of folks skipping the convention to tend to the home fires. Regrets: Just too busy campaigning. Catch up with you all later.

Then there are some folks who do show, who do get a nice speaking slot, and it is unclear why, because they risk turning off the very people they need to win. It can get complicated.

The coronavirus pandemic has upended the traditional convention though. Most everything — most, but not all — has been virtual, a lot of it pre-taped, maybe even beamed via satellite from Israel, a virtual watch party in Arizona or a War of 1812 battle site.

CQ Roll Call politics editor Herb Jackson and senior political writer Bridget Bowman discuss some the more interesting shows and no-shows at this year’s political conventions on the latest Political Theater podcast.

Show Notes: