LOS ANGELES — Cutting back on political conventions isn't only for network television and its viewers. Some prominent Democratic politicians are skipping this year's gathering.
"Been there, done that," said 16-term Rep. Dave Obey, D-Wis.
Also missing are Bill Lipinski of Illinois, the state's biggest backer of Bill Bradley, who challenged Al Gore for the Democratic presidential nomination; Rep. Bob Wise, running for governor of West Virginia; and Arkansas state Sen. Mike Ross, campaigning to unseat GOP Rep. Jay Dickey.
"I'm in the race of my life here," Ross told Arkansas delegates by telephone Wednesday.
Many Democratic candidates for the House stayed home. Only about a dozen of the party's strongest contenders attended the convention — half of them from California.
Some Republicans skipped their gathering two weeks ago in Philadelphia too.
Among them were Washington state Sen. Dan McDonald, Michigan state Sen. Mike Rogers and Montana rancher Dennis Rehberg — all seeking House seats. Rep. Rick Lazio, competing against Hillary Rodham Clinton for an open Senate seat from New York, found time for just a day's visit.
Political conventions don't seem as important to some anymore.
Democratic Gov. Jim Hodges was returning to South Carolina before Gore's speech Thursday night because he said Gore and running mate Joseph Lieberman have little chance of winning the state. He said he would use the spare time to push for a state lottery instead.
Former Georgia Gov. Zell Miller, running in a special election to replace the late Sen. Paul Coverdell, said he thought it best to act as a nonpartisan statesman and stay away entirely. At the 1992 convention, Miller gave a keynote speech full of criticism of former President Bush.