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Sanibel resident just misses chance to represent Clinton as delegate

By Staff | May 11, 2016

Sanibel resident Daniel Wexler with Hillary Clinton. PHOTO PROVIDED

A Sanibel Island resident just missed his chance this past weekend of becoming a Democratic National Convention delegate representing Hillary Clinton.

An election was held Saturday for four hours in two locations, the Lee Democratic Party Headquarters in Fort Myers, and the Collier Democratic Party Headquarters in Naples. There were six people running for two slots. For individuals to vote they had to be a registered Democrat.

According to Michelle Guerin, executive director of the Lee County Democrat Executive Committee, the delegates who will be representing Hillary Clinton are Jeff Kushner, Joseph Wells and Sandra McClinton. The delegate representing Bernie Sanders is Judy Dempsey.

Just missing the opportunity to go was long-time Clinton supporter Daniel Wexler, of Sanibel.

In 2008, when Wexler was elected into the district, he said there was only one polling place and less than 200 people voted because it is not something that is publicized. He said all he had to do was fill out a form expressing his interest and contact people to cast their ballots for him during the election.

Wexler said there is a certain area at the polling places they could stand engage people in conversation before voting.

“You ask them for their vote in the few seconds you have with them,” Wexler said before the election. “There is no guide book, you just go out there and shake hands and hopefully they will vote for you. My guess is a lot of people will go there and vote for one person and they may not have their second vote picked out. That is my hope.”

Once the election concluded, and the votes were tallied Saturday, four, out of the six delegates from this congressional district would move on.

“It’s a paper ballot and you can sit there and watch them count the ballots if you want,” Wexler said Wednesday afternoon.

If he had won Saturday, he would have attended a get together with all the delegates. He said he would also be given the opportunity to run for the platform, or rules committee. After that, he said the delegate would then attend the convention.

“The role of the delegate is not significant. It’s significant in that you are representing your congressional district and you are representing your candidate. Once the convention is over, your role is over,” he said.

Wexler said the candidates do have the ability to eliminate delegates if they do not want them, which can only be done three times.

“You go in there to represent your congressional district and your state and cast your vote for the presumptive nominee for whoever has the right amount of delegates,” he said.

Since Wexler has known the Clintons for a long time, long before Bill Clinton was elected president, he said it would personally feel great voting for Hillary Clinton as a delegate to give her the opportunity to run as a nominee.

“I feel very strongly about giving her the opportunity to vote for her to be the nominee and giving her the chance to become the president. I think she would be a great president and the first woman president. She has a great opportunity to try and achieve that goal,” he said before the election. “This will probably be my last convention. I enjoy the conventions. It is very exciting.”

Wexler attended his first convention when he was 16 in 1972.

At his last convention in 2008, he worked with the speaker tracking system where he spent time getting speakers in and out of the convention and making sure their speeches were where they should be to make sure things ran on time.

Wexler said he spent five and a half years in Bill Clinton’s administration. He was appointed to the officer public liaison office in the White House shortly after the inauguration.

The White House is divided into many different outreach offices, which included the public liaison office.

“When you see the president talking to a group of people whether it be about crime, or business, we would bring people (together) who would be apart of that world,” Wexler said. “So if we are doing a crime speech we would bring people from the criminal justice world, people who would normally be interested in stuff like this.”

While spending time in the White House, he said he worked on gathering people together for a Peace Signing.

“We were essentially the president’s eyes and ears for the people,” he said. “Part of our job was to support policy by getting people to understand what the president is trying to do in various issues. Also get feedback from people. That is how we would develop policy.”

The job was exciting, demanding and during the time when he did not have internet and social media at his fingertips. He would arrive at work 7 a.m. or 7:30 a.m. and work until 10 p.m. during the week and then worked Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“We used mostly faxes. Over time we got an inter White House email service,” Wexler said.

He said he learned about the world, how politics worked, how to develop policy and met a lot of people. Wexler also did a good amount of international travel while apart of Clinton’s administration.

One of those travels led to Indonesia, where he helped put together an event with American companies that did business in the area to talk about economic development. Wexler said his office put the crowd together by working with the embassy to identify people who were significant American companies in that community.

“I took away a much greater understanding of how our government works. A much greater understanding of the challenges of leadership and understanding of what they are trying to accomplish. You have to answer questions all the time of people challenging what it is you believe in,” he said of some of the things he took away from the experience.

Wexler got into politics because of his mother, Ann Wexler, who was a delegate in 1968 from Westport, Connecticut. She was very involved with the rules committee, and some of those rules stand today of how delegates are chosen.

He said his mother hired Bill Clinton as a first year law student to help in the campaign. In 1972, she hired him again to work in the George McGovern campaign.

“I’ve known Bill Clinton since I was 14,” Wexler said. “He’s one of those guys you always knew he would accomplish what he wanted to. He just had that way about him.”

He said he’s always been attracted to the whole political process.

“I was fascinated by government and how government worked. The political process was always exciting to me. Seeing how people behaved and what they talked about and everyone’s vision of how they want to change things,” Wexler said. “I enjoy the fever of it. I enjoy the intensity of it, the excitement.”

Wexler moved to Sanibel in 2005 with his family. His grandparents, who moved to the island in 1962, attracted his family for yearly family vacations. After 9/11 it was time to get out of Washington and raise their kids somewhere else.

Follow Meghan @IslanderMeghan on Twitter.