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Maine DNC Delegate: Casting Roll Call Votes From His Winthrop Farm 'Nothing Short Of Breathtaking'

Democratic National Convention
via AP
In this image from video, Maine State Rep. Craig Hickman speaks during the state roll call vote on second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020.

On Tuesday night, Maine state Rep. Craig Hickman cast Maine's delegate votes during the roll call at the Democratic National Convention. Rep. Hickman is African American, and - as he alluded to in his remarks - gay. And he's a small businessman, something he chose to highlight in his remarks. Rep. Hickman spoke with Maine Public's Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz.

Gratz: Rep. Hickman joins me now. Good morning, sir.

Hickman: Good morning,

Because you have been to a national political convention before - this was clearly a completely different animal.

Well, if COVID did not exist, I would be in Milwaukee, which is my hometown, at a live convention, in person. And the honor there would be to be - in my last term in office, my last year of my last term in office - a public official in my hometown, doing this great work. So instead, we had to do it virtually. And I can say that I've been participating in as many online webinars as I possibly can. But the convenience of  participating this way is we have high harvest right now, and so I am able to actually multi-task and cut my okra, and cut my tomatoes, and cut my eggplant, and participate in the convention virtually. And to be able to cast the roll call from the tranquility of my own farm in Winthrop, Maine was nothing short of breathtaking.

Do you think it's generating enough excitement among the general public compared to the spectacle that's usually put on?

It may be generating even more excitement. The roll call across America was unlike anything, of course, we've ever seen before, but it showed the rich tapestry of our people. It showed the beauty of our country and who we are. The diversity of voices and experiences was on full display for every American and for the world to see. That is not what you get at a live convention. And so, I would hope, and I have read several articles now where people are suggesting and hoping, that even if the next convention is back to an in-person, theatrical experience that the roll call vote still be done this way.

You talk about the diversity: You are an African American man, you're in a same-sex marriage. And yet for the most part, in the 30 seconds that you had, you chose to concentrate on the farm and your small business, the bed and breakfast. Why that emphasis?

Well, like I said in the video, rural economies are undergirded by small businesses like ours. And Mainers are self-sufficient, proud people. We like our freedom. We like our individual liberties, but we also have each other's back. And when you have strong, resilient rural communities, based on local food and local agriculture, it's vibrant, it's real. It's what people want. I don't know that we have ever been busier. And when you have this crisis create this opportunity to want to buy more from all of their local businesses to keep them afloat, it's important to underscore that in an America where small businesses have been destroyed by COVID, and by policies that really only help those at the top, the 1%.

How excited are you by the ticket the Democrats have to run with now to November?

To see a Black woman accept the nomination for vice president was another one of those moments where I just had to sit on the stairs of my living room and be emotional, which is exactly what I did when Barack Obama became the first Black president of the United States. And so I'm actually really excited about this ticket. I have always thought that Joe Biden was a man of character, a man of integrity. He will bring back to the White House respect and dignity. He will not sully the the surface of the resolute desk with product placement from foreign corporations that exploit the labor of human beings in order to produce their product.

State Rep. Craig Hickman, Democratic delegate to the national convention that is nominating Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to run for president and vice president. Rep. Hickman, thank you for your time. I appreciate it.

Thank you. Have a great afternoon.