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Delegates elect not to run

CHARLOTTE — Random observation: Politics is in bad shape.

Predawn Tuesday in Charlotte, long before the villainous heatandhumidity partnership reached its ruthless peak, should have brought out an Olympics-opening-ceremony multitude of Democratic joggers and walkers.

Instead, the walkers seemed absent, and the joggers were lonely.

But it’s not just a Democratic trend. Joel Pollak, who was jogging along Seventh Street just before 7 a.m., said he was at the Republican National Convention in Tampa last week, and the Republicans weren’t exercising, either.

Pollak lives in Los Angeles, home of endless sunshine but humidity so low that it can turn a watermelon into a prune. He is accustomed to doing his five or six miles a day in relative comfort, not in Charlotte’s meteorological wool sweater.

Not a politician by trade, Pollak edits and writes for breitbart.com, a website devoted to “political and Hollywood news.” He said it has a conservative slant, and the top story Tuesday morning confirmed that label. Its headline: “Narcissist-in-Chief: Obama Most Cited Term in Dem Platform.”

So Pollak seemed refreshingly bipartisan when he included the Republicans in his critique: “There was no one out (jogging) in Tampa, either. First, there was the threat of the tropical storm, but even after that passed, people were lazy.”

Not so Travis Berry, executive director of the Democratic Attorneys General Association. At about 6:45 a.m. Tuesday, Berry, who lives in “dry as a bone” Denver, started down McDowell Street on his 40-minute, four-mile run.

He is not a delegate to the convention, but rather is here on behalf of the association. “We’ll do some events,” he said. “Twenty-four of the 50 (state) attorneys general are Democrats.”

But what about this running thing? In this heatandhumidity?

Like any good political operative, Berry sidestepped, praising Charlotte for its beauty and Charlotteans for their, um, warmth.

He even had a charming exercise-in-Charlotte anecdote. The evening of Labor Day, he was out running, and he spotted a familiar face in a passing car: It was Roy Romer, the former three-term Democratic governor of Colorado for whom Berry once worked. They had a brief reunion.

The anecdote over, Berry took off down McDowell; a few blocks away, John Smith (yes, he expects people to squint a little when he introduces himself), a delegate from Fremont, Calif., was close to finishing his three miles.

He is staying at the Blake Hotel, and he started his run about 6:15 a.m.

“Better to get it in now before the heat gets up,” Smith said. The city is “impressive” for jogging, he said, with wide streets and sidewalks.

Other than Berry, Smith was the only jogger spotted on McDowell in the predawn half-hour. Smith also was the only Tuesday-morning jogger in his family. His wife, Sybil, didn’t join him.

“I left her in bed,” Smith said.

Jim Stasiowski can be reached at jim.stasiowski@thedolancompany.com.

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