Top Democrats to Skip Party's Convention

Your Voice, Your Vote: DNC

As Democrats descend on Charlotte, N.C., this week to light a fire under President Obama's re-election campaign, a few of the biggest names in the party will not be there.

While party honchos like former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter are set to take the stage, other Democratic heros such as Al Gore and Hillary Clinton are staying far from Charlotte. And with hotly contested House and Senate races peppered across the map, many Democratic members of Congress have swapped convention parties for campaign events.

Here's a look at some of the Democrats who've decided to skip their party's biggest gathering.

Reason: The Law

Hillary Clinton

For the first time in more than four decades, Hillary Clinton will not be attending the Democratic National Convention. But not because she doesn't want to.

Since she's secretary of state, federal statute and the State Department's ethical guidelines prohibit Clinton from participating in political activities such as a party convention.

Other cabinet secretaries, such as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Attorney General Eric Holder, will also not be in Charlotte for the same reasons that will keep Clinton away.

Reason: Cable TV

Al Gore

Former Vice President Al Gore is choosing his cable network over his party's convention this year, deciding to host Current TV's coverage of both conventions.

Gore will anchor Current TV's Democratic convention coverage from New York.

Reason: Death in the Family

California Gov. Jerry Brown

California Gov. Jerry Brown decided not to cross the continent for the Democratic convention this week, which comes one week after the death of his father-in-law, Rockwell "Rocky" Gust. Gust once ran, unsuccessfully, alongside GOP nominee Mitt Romney's father for lieutenant governor of Michigan.

Brown also cited legislative work as a reason for skipping the Democratic Convention, the Sacramento Bee reported.

Reason: Tight Races

PHOTO: Jon Tester and Claire McCaskill
United State Senate
Senate Candidates

At least five Democratic Senate candidates are opting to stay home and campaign instead of attending their party's convention this week.

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill was a surrogate for the Obama campaign in 2008 but is spending her week campaigning instead of celebrating Obama's nomination. But after she caught flak for the decision, McCaskill tweeted "Bet POTUS agrees with my decision."

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin spoke in support of Obama at the DNC in 2008, but in 2012 is staying home to campaign. He hasn't said if he'll even vote for President Obama in 2012.

Montana Sen. John Tester, Arizona Senate candidate Richard Carmona and North Dakota Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp are also skipping the Democratic Convention to campaign in their home states. Manchin said in April that he had not decided whether to vote for Obama. "These first three and a half years haven't been that good to West Virginia."

Reason: Tight Races

PHOTO: John Barrow
United States House of Representatives
House Candidates

With Obama's approval ratings dismally low in West Virgina - only 31 percent approve of the president, according to Gallup - West Virginia Rep. Nick Rahall has chosen to stick to his home state rather than attend his party's convention.

The same rings true for Utah Rep. Jim Matheson, who is embroiled in a tight re-election campaign in a state where Obama's approval rating is wavering around 26 percent. Pennsylvania Rep. Mark Critz and Georgia Rep. John Barrow are also skipping the convention to campaign this year.

Four New York representatives chose to hit the campaign trail instead of the convention hall as the New York Times reported: Reps. Timothy H. Bishop, Kathy Hochul, Bill Owens and Louise M. Slaughter.

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