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The first time Judith Droz Keyes attended a Democratic National Convention it was 1968, and she never made it inside. She was among the throngs of anti-war protesters who were pummeled outside the convention by the Chicago police. An officer on a horse struck Keyes on the head with his baton, she says. At the time, her husband was serving in Vietnam as a swift boat officer, in the same squadron as John Kerry. Eight months later, Keyes’ husband died, spurring her to become more active in the anti-war movement. That’s where she met Kerry. Keyes, a partner at Morrison & Foerster, is about to attend her second Democratic Convention. This time she’ll be inside, serving as a delegate for Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. Keyes is one of several local lawyers who’ve been elected as delegates for Kerry or John Edwards, his running mate. For many, like Keyes, the road to political involvement is paved with family ties. “I am thrilled to be a part of something that is so terribly important,” Keyes said. “It’s an opportunity to learn about what is going on in the big picture sense and what we in California can do” to help Kerry win the election. A total of 4,353 delegates and 611 alternates will attend the convention, which kicks off Monday in Boston and culminates with Kerry’s acceptance speech the evening of July 29. California has the largest contingent, with 441 delegates and 62 alternates. Delegates won their spots on the convention floor primarily through political connections and fund-raising efforts for Kerry and Edwards. Keyes is co-chair of Lawyers for Kerry in California and chair of Women for Kerry in California. She was elected an alternate delegate for the eighth congressional district. Angela Bradstreet, a partner at Carroll, Burdick & McDonough, participated in fund-raisers for Kerry. But she became an at-large delegate through her longtime support of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who recommended Bradstreet for a delegate spot. Bradstreet, who got involved in politics when Feinstein’s daughter joined her firm, has never been to a convention before. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Bradstreet said. “It’s an opportunity to get into substantive discussions.” The line-up of California delegates also includes MoFo partner Tony West, Palo Alto solo practitioner Owen Byrd, and plaintiffs lawyer Thomas Girardi, of Los Angeles’ Girardi & Keese. West’s wife, Maya Harris-West, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, is an alternate delegate. Byrd was one of the founders of the local Lawyers for Kerry group. He organized the first fund-raiser for the Massachusetts senator in Silicon Valley in May of last year. That event — a luncheon at Spago — drew about 30 lawyers who met with Kerry one-on-one. This is the first time Byrd has participated in a presidential campaign. He first met Kerry in 1990 at an Earth Day event Byrd organized in Boston and has been a supporter ever since. “After 9-11 and Afghanistan and Iraq, I felt I had to lift my sights” to the national and international horizon, Byrd said. When Kerry emerged as a candidate, “I knew I’d found my horse to ride.” SEEMS LIKE OLD TIMES For West, the experience is old hat. He’s been to four previous conventions, the first in 1988 when he worked on Michael Dukakis’ campaign. After Dukakis lost the election, West spent nine months as the finance director of the Democratic Governors Association. In that role, he traveled around the country with Bill Clinton, who was then governor of Arkansas and the chairman of the association. West said it was difficult to raise money for an organization, so he would point to Clinton and tell people: “He’s going to be the next president of the United States.” “It was far more pitch than prescience,” said West, who later joined Clinton’s 1992 campaign and became one of his delegates from San Francisco. This time around, West has a special assignment at the convention. He’ll be one of about 50 whips overseeing logistics on the floor. One of the duties of a whip is to tell delegates when to raise their “Kerry for President” signs. Such efforts can make a visual impact, West said. He recalled Rev. Jesse Jackson’s speech at the 1988 convention. Jackson, who ran for president that year, had many delegates on the floor. During Jackson’s talk, the whips made sure that only the red signs for Jackson were raised. “Even those of us with Dukakis felt a great deal of pride for Jesse,” West said. “That night, that whole floor was red.” Other lawyers have behind-the-scenes roles on the three standing committees of the convention. Cooley Godward partner Frederick Baron and Jeffrey Bleich, a partner in Munger, Tolles & Olson’s San Francisco office, are on the credentials committee; Thomas McInerney, a partner at Thelen Reid & Priest, is on the rules committee; and San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris is on the platform committee. Baron served on the presidential teams of Jimmy Carter and as associate deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration. Bleich also has ties to Clinton. The former president hired him to direct the White House Commission on Youth Violence in 1999. During his stint in Washington, Bleich met Edwards and became one of his earliest supporters, hosting fund-raisers for him during his campaign. The convention is a magnet for political devotees. Other lawyers who will be hobnobbing at the weeklong gathering include plaintiffs attorney and possible AG candidate Joseph Cotchett Jr., who was co-chair of Edwards’ campaign in California. He is renting a couple of hotel suites with real estate magnate Walter Shorenstein and others. William Orrick III, a partner at Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass, and MoFo partner Jesse Markham Jr., who with Keyes are co-chairs of the Lawyers for Kerry group in California, will also be in the crowd. Like Keyes, Orrick attended his first convention in 1968. As a 15-year-old, he went with his father, a delegate for Robert Kennedy. Kennedy had been assassinated two months before the convention. “There was fighting going on inside” as well as outside the convention doors, Orrick said, noting the tension between the Kennedy/McCarthy delegates and those for Hubert Humphrey. Although he’s never been a delegate, T. Hale Boggs, a partner in Manatt, Phelps & Phillips’ Palo Alto and Los Angeles offices, has attended most of the Democratic conventions over the last 20 years. His family has long ties to the Democratic Party. His grandfather, Thomas Hale Boggs Sr., served in the U.S. Congress for almost 30 years. After Boggs Sr.’s death, his wife, Lindy, took the same seat for 18 years. And Bogg’s father, Thomas Hale Boggs Jr. of Washington, D.C.’s Patton Boggs, is a well-known lobbyist. The convention is a way to make business connections and “reconnect with people I don’t see in person that often,” Boggs said. “And it’s fun.” As Keyes immerses herself in the current presidential campaign, she is also being drawn back to the turbulent time of the Vietnam War. Her daughter, Tracy Droz Tragos, made a documentary about her father, Donald Droz, which was recently nominated for an Emmy. The film, “Be Good, Smile Pretty,” includes interviews with those who fought with Droz in Vietnam, including Kerry. Tragos began the project after she searched his name online three years ago and discovered an account of his death during an ambush of his boat on the Mekong Delta. Keyes said she and her daughter have been struck with “the uncanny juxtaposition” of Trago’s discovery and Kerry’s announcement that he would run for the presidency. As in 1968, the U.S. government is involved in a war that is drawing protesters to the convention. The Boston Globe reported last week that the city has issued 67 permits for demonstrations and vigils. Anti-war groups are protesting Kerry for his support of the war in Iraq and his call to send more troops there. Kerry’s delegates, however, contend that he offers the best chance to turn around President Bush’s policies on civil rights, the environment, the U.S. Patriot Act and other issues. “We may have disagreements on what should be emphasized,” Keyes said. “It’s time to stand united in the face of [Bush's] opposition to all the values we hold.”

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