Meet Clinton's Superdelegate John Olsen

He's heading to Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention which begins September 4.


As the Republican National Convention wraps up, the Democrats are packing their suitcases to head to their own convention which takes place September 4-6 in Charlotte, NC.

Forming in line at the airport is John Olsen, a superdelegate from Clinton.

Many know Olsen as an active Democrat in town and in the state (he was the former chairman of the Democratic State Central Committee, co-chair of the Platform Committee, and a national committee member since 1996) and as the president of the AFL/CIO of Connecticut.

Olsen, a native of Greenwich, has resided in Clinton with his wife Janeen since 1995. He has three children and one grandchild.

He's also what is known in the world of political conventions as a superdelegate.

What's a superdelegate you ask?

As defined by Wikipedia, superdelegate is an informal term commonly used for some of the delegates to the Democratic or Republican National Conventions.

Unlike most convention delegates, the superdelegates are not selected based on the party primaries and caucuses in each U.S. state, in which voters choose among candidates for the party's presidential nomination. Instead, most of the superdelegates are seated automatically, based solely on their status as current (Republican and Democratic) or former (Democratic only) party leaders and elected officials. Others are chosen during the primary season. All the superdelegates are free to support any candidate for the nomination.

Olsen said that there are about three superdelegates in Connecticut out of 102 "regular" delegates heading to this year's convention.

"To be a superdelegate you need to be a former chair of the state party, or a member of Congress," he said.

The number of delegates per state is set by number of electoral votes, said Olsen. It is mandatory that the number is gender-balanced and includes different ethnic groups as well as groups representing veterans, gays, and other factions, he said.

At the Democratic National Convention (DNC) this year, there's not a lot of suspense over who will be the Democratic candidate for president, so why even hold the meeting?

"It's important for the party to come together and talk about what we stand for," said Olsen. "There's great value to it to showcase your candidates and your message. We all need cheerleaders."

Olsen, who has attended every DNC since 1980 with the exception of one for President Bill Clinton, finds it an opportunity to meet and socialize with the leaders in the state of Connecticut as well as national leaders to discuss party issues.

"We are a very diverse and opinionated group with different ideas," said Olsen. "But in the setting of the DNC we find what unifies us."

Olsen said that for the Republicans, one of the purposes of gathering was to find out more about Mitt Romney - the man and the candidate.

For the Democrats, who support the Obama/Biden ticket, it's about showcasing their candidates and solidifying their platform.

"We have a minority president elected by a majority," said Olsen.

Will we see Olsen on TV wearing a funny hat?

No, he says, but if your goal is to get on ABC News, then wearing a sky-high red, white and blue hat or a big block of orange cheese disguised as a hat will certainly up your odds of press coverage.

Jane Scully Welch August 31, 2012 at 12:22 PM
We are proud of you John....and yes...NO funny hats! have fun...and at least Clint Eastwood won't be there!!!!
Timothee Graze August 31, 2012 at 01:39 PM
go, John, go! Get those Democrats fired up. We need more enthusiasm like we had 4 years ago Timothee Graze
Randy Watson August 31, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Hello Patcheads! Yes, the most horrible time of year is upon us –election season. God help us, one and all. I know Mrs. Welch was making a joke when she mentioned Clint Eastwood not attending Democratic National Convention in her message to Mr. Olsen. However, I think her post, inadvertently, points out the hypocrisy of the left here in the good old U.S.of A. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of hypocrisy on the right. But I find it interesting that the party of ‘diversity’ and ‘acceptance’ has a problem with a Hollywood personality who doesn’t fall in lockstep with his peers in endorsing a political candidate. Shouldn’t the party known for ‘embracing ones individuality’ celebrate a person who isn’t caught up in the groupthink of his fellow industry types? Likewise, shouldn’t a person who puts their ‘uniqueness’ on display for all the world to see in the form of political expression be lauded rather than ridiculed? If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that at the same time an actor receives their SAG card, they are also handed a pamphlet entitled “1001 Liberal Catchphrases” as well as Babs Streisand’s epic work: “America’s Evil Foreign Policy in a Nutshell.” Just some food for though Patcheads. Have a safe Labor Day weekend. Peace – Randy
Janet Reynolds August 31, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Like your style, Randy. There isn't much that is more biased and hypocritical then a good old left wing liberal !
Alyson Roberts August 31, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Congratulations, John! Enjoy the convention and as Timothee says above, help get the Democrats fired up!! I will be watching for you on tv.
Ellen Lowe August 31, 2012 at 10:46 PM
John I am so pleased to have you representing us bringing all of your experience to this important convention. I'll be interested to watch and trust that this will truly mobilize all of us to do whatever we can to ensure President Obama's re-election. Have a good trip. Ellen Lowe


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