SOUTHERN MARYLAND (Aug. 24, 2008)—The 5th Congressional District's three Republican Party delegates, three alternates, and at-large delegates from the area are off to St. Paul, Minnesota this week for the party's presidential convention.
The delegates will cast their votes to determine who will be the party's candidate for President of the United States. John McCain is currently the presumptive nominee. McCain named his vice presidential pick, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, on Friday, the day after the Democratic convention in Denver ended. Palin is the first female candidate to be nominated on a Republican ticket.
Maryland's 5th congressional district encompasses Calvert, Charles and St. Marys counties and portions of Prince Georges and Anne Arundel counties.
Biographies of the Republican Delegates for the 5th District:
MELINDA A. FITZWATER, 59, of Deale, is a first-time delegate although she has attended three previous conventions, including those at which former presidents Reagan and the first Bush were nominated. She supported McCain during his 2000 presidential bid. A cousin of McCain's and the wife of Marlin Fitzwater, former White House press secretary to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Fitzwater comes from a politically active family. A retired customer relations employee of Boeing Co., she decided to run as a delegate when prompted by a McCain campaign official.
BRIAN S. KERN, 47, of Clinton, is a self-described political outsider who has never participated in official party business until running this year as a McCain delegate in the 5th District. An attorney, Kern is assistant general counsel for a Virginia-based insurance company. When asked why he decided to become a delegate, Kern respond, "It's the first time I've felt strongly enough about a candidate to get involved."
MEGHAN SOMMERS, 25, of Laurel, is working on a bachelor's degree in music from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. She has been a longtime McCain supporter, and at 17, she volunteered with his 2000 campaign. When she turned 18, she registered as a Republican in anticipation of supporting his 2004 bid.
ASHLEY REED, 24, of Churchton, is a first-time alternate delegate. A McCain supporter, Reed is an elected member of the Ann Arundel County Central Republican Committee and vice chairwoman of the Anne Arundel Young Republicans.
MARK H. STONE, 51 of California, is an alternate delegate supporting McCain. As a Navy veteran, Stone said he seized the opportunity to support McCain, a Navy veteran and former prisoner or war, now that he is able to openly participate in politics. Despite being unable to openly campaign for many years while in the service, Stone is a long-time small donor to McCain. A first-time delegate, Stone said the McCain campaign called him before the primaries and asked him to run after seeing his donor history. Stone is a project manager for BAE Systems, a United-Kingdom based defense contractor whose U.S. subsidiary is based in Rockville.
CRYSTAL ZORBAUGH, 32, of Huntingtown, a registered Democrat until December, is attending the convention as an alternate delegate. Zorbaugh, a legal assistant who also runs a Methodist Sunday school, said she has voted for and donated to various Democratic campaigns but decided to become a McCain supporter when she heard him give a speech in which he said he would rather lose the presidency than a war. "McCain says what people need to hear and not what they want to hear," she said. Zorbaugh is also chairwoman of the Calvert County Committee for McCain. She is expected to speak at the convention about her Methodist ties.
At-large Delegates (Relative to So. Md.)
ANTHONY O'DONNELL, of Lusby, is the minority leader of the Maryland House of Delegates. He was first elected to the General Assembly in 1995 and attended the Republicans last convention in New York City. He is a member of the Republican National Platform Committee.
PATT A. PARKER of Dunkirk is the president of the Maryland Federation of Republican Women. She holds a bachelor's degree in education, a master's in business administration and another master's degree in national security from the National War College. Until 2005, Parker was the deputy director in the Office of Military and Federal Affairs, Department of Business and Economic Development and also served 20 years in the federal government.
KEVIN IGOE (alternate) of Owings is a Maryland-based political consultant and former executive director of the Maryland Republican Party. He provides political analysis for Maryland Public Television and WUSA-TV 9 in Washington. He was political director of Ellen Sauerbrey's 1994 campaign for governor of Maryland.
Capital News Service contributed to this report.