Matheson, he's not

Utah delegate Kelvin Davis has had a roller coaster couple of weeks. His mother passed away last week, and a son was born a few days later — just before he headed to Denver.

So he had to arrange a funeral, handle relatives coming from out of town, take care of his other children while his wife was recovering from birth, and try to buy some back-to-school clothes and supplies.

"I almost missed my ride" to Denver, he said, as he was making those last minute back-to-school purchases. "We were so busy we didn't even name the baby before we took him home from the hospital. I was dealing with the funeral and people coming from out of town."

They did come up with a name for the baby later: Hiddekel, a biblical name for a river in the Garden of Eden. "I hope he will bring the water of life to the people he will touch in his life," Davis said.

Davis, who is black, said he decided to come to Denver despite all the upheaval to honor his mother. "She was so excited when I was elected a delegate," he said. "I can't express the thrill she had for Obama. She had a sign for him in her window. She was really inspired by him and in tune with him."

He only wishes his mother could have lived to see the formal nomination occur, because she knew firsthand how far black Americans have come. "She worked hard to put herself through college. She struggled as a single mother," he said. "She was the first African-Amercian bus driver for the Utah Transit Agency years ago."

He said she liked Obama for his message, and not his race — and she had seen black candidates before. "Jesse Jackson ran as a black candidate (for president). Barack Obama ran as a candidate," he said.

Mecham humor

THE POPE'S WHAT?: Arizona National Committeewoman Carolyn Warner was riding a shuttle and chatting with some Utah reporters about former Arizona Gov. Evan Mecham.

She lost a governor's race to Mecham but said they were still friends. Mecham was a native Utahn and a Mormon, but had a reputation for stupid gaffes and silly insensitivity. She tells a story, and swears it true, that adds to that lore of Mecham.

"We were friends and he told me one day that he and his wife were going to meet the Pope (John Paul II)," she said. He was concerned about what language skills were needed and said, "Tell me, do you know if the pope's wife speaks English?" Of course, popes are celibate.

The ghosts of bunnies past

The Utah delegation has been holding its daily meetings in a ballroom on the 15th floor of the Warwick Hotel where it is staying. It has a colorful history: it was once the Playboy Club of Denver.

"They pointed out to me where there used to be some portals in the ceiling" that were glass and allowed looking into the bottom of the rooftop pool were bunnies and guests would swim, said Todd Taylor, executive secretary of the Utah Democratic Party.

Those portals, however, are long gone. The Utah delegation has enjoyed socializing around the rooftop pool — without any bunnies, however.

Youth not wasted

Many parties at the Democratic National Convention offer free alcohol. Even the Warwick Hotel where the Utah delegation stays dropped off free wine to delegates' rooms, and said it plans to drop off free beer later this week.

That presents a bit of a problem for delegate Jordan Apollo Pazell. He's only 18, and not old enough to drink legally. He can be a delegate, vote for president, serve in the military if he chooses, but he cannot drink.

"Tell people that I haven't been drinking, really," he said at one reception as he was sipping a soda. At age 18, he is the third youngest delegate at the convention, and the youngest from Utah.

One thing did bother Pazell about the free wine delivered to his hotel room. The card with it was addressed to "Ms. Pazell." While his first name, Jordan, could be for either a male or female, he is a man.


Speaking of young voters, Utah delegate Brian Spittler participated in a national press availability talking about the importance of the youth vote.

He is president of BYU for Obama. He said, "We've seen huge growth in participation by young voters," and about 16 percent of delegates this year are younger than 30.

"We have seen in Utah as well as around the country that this demographic (youths) has been energized," he said. Spittler adds that at BYU, "We registered almost 1,200 students as Democrats. This is something that has never happened at BYU."

What is the draw for Obama among those BYU students? "He is a great leader and has the high values and ideals," he said.