Clintonian has a hand in Clinton-Obama race
Clinton native Philip McNamara said his political upbringing in a political town has served him well in his rise to prominence in the national Democratic Party.
McNamara, the Democratic National Committee’s director of party affairs and delegate selection, stood at the center of national attention last weekend, when the DNC Rules Committee decided to seat Florida and Michigan delegations but only give them half-votes, a move seen as giving a nominating convention advantage to Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., over Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y, running a close second in the delegate count.
“I grew up in a very political town, in an extremely political family,” said McNamara. “Dinnertime conversations in my household were usually focused on what was going politically in town, rather than sports. In the fall of 1992, when I was 18 years old, my car had political bumper stickers on it.”
McNamara said he has numerous relatives with Clinton connections, including his mother, Doreen, and father, John “Fumb” McNamara, formerly a Clinton selectmen and retired fire captain. The couple lives on Highland Avenue. Philip’s brother Justin and sister-in-law Ashley still live on Berlin Street.
McNamara attended Our Lady of Jasna Gora Elementary School (currently now St. Mary’s). He went to Holy Name Central Catholic High School in Worcester and graduated in 1993, then moved on to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, graduating in 1997 while double-majoring in political science and journalism. He said he was not overly involved regarding high school political activities, but he got his feet wet before college.
“I did student council stuff, but never really did anything beyond that,” he said. “In high school I worked a summer for [Congressman] Joseph Early Sr. in Worcester, helped out. In politics you quickly learn you spend a lot of time stuffing envelopes and mailing.”
In the fall of 1995, McNamara completed an internship at then Vice President Al Gore’s office, which he called a “valuable experience for preparing me.”
All the while, he came home to his Highland Avenue home until a year after college graduation in May 1998, when McNamara moved to Washington, D.C., to be part of the political scene. He still returns home to visit his parents.
“I try to get home three or four times a year, definitely around Christmas time,” he said. “In a presidential election year, my trips home are less frequent. It was nice during the Boston convention — I could fly up on Sunday night, spend time with my parents Monday morning and schedule my meetings later in the day.”
McNamara started in May 1998 in the DNC as a department assistant before working his way up to office deputy director in February 1999. He became director in April 2002.
“My work is entirely dedicated to delegates and the convention,” said McNamara. “I have a staff of five people. My particular office works with all the state Democratic parties on their delegation. We staff the 30-member DNC committee.”
He helped organize the 2000 Los Angeles convention and the 2004 Boston convention, and is currently planning the Aug. 25-27 Denver convention, which is shaping up to be the party’s most controversial since 1968 in Chicago.
“I’ve been working on this Florida-Michigan stuff for a year and a half,” McNamara said this week. “Since the primaries started in January , everyone has taken a great interest in what I do. My e-mails have been flooded from Florida and Michigan. There was never going to be an easy solution. This is what we had to for the party. Was it going to make some people happy? Sure. Was it going to some people upset? Sure. But we had to have Florida and Michigan representation at the convention.”
While political commentators continue to talk about last weekend, McNamara said his attention has shifted to other states.
“Other than Florida and Michigan, there are 54 states and territories that haven’t selected their delegates yet,” he said. “We will start the drafting process in June and continue all through July.”
Asked whether he thought the former First Lady would drop out before the convention, McNamara showed some very Clintonian political discretion.
“I can’t comment on that,” McNamara said. “I think the candidates have run great races. That’s a decision Sen. Clinton in her campaign is going to have to make.”
Jason Crotty can be reached at 978-365-8046 or email@example.com.
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