"Everyone is going to go back and be a surrogate for President Obama," the Maryland Democrat said. "When someone says President Obama cut Medicare, they're going to be out there saying, 'No, he didn't, and let me tell you what happened.'"
Maryland played a big role at the Democratic convention — five of its elected officials spoke from the podium — but the deeply blue state will not be a factor in the election itself. Both presidential candidates will campaign instead in competitive states such as Florida, Ohio and neighboring Virginia. In 2008, Maryland gave Obama one of his largest margins in the country. He won with 62 percent of the vote.
It's not clear that the Democratic convention or the Republican gathering last week in Tampa will have much of an impact on the underlying dynamics of the race. Polls did not change significantly after the GOP convention, and they continue to reflect a race that is tight and unpredictable. A Gallup poll released Thursday showed Obama ahead by only 1 percentage point, well within its margin of error.
But the convention did have implications for Maryland politics and in particular for Gov. Martin O'Malley. As chair of the Democratic Governors Association and a go-to message man for his party, O'Malley has done little to squelch speculation that he may run for president in 2016, and he was closely scrutinized by political reporters and operatives during the convention.
His prime-time speech on the convention's opening night Tuesday received mostly poor reviews — too stiff, pundits said — but the governor seemed to perform better in the smaller gatherings of state delegations he visited every morning and the late-night receptions held just outside the convention hall.
O'Malley spoke to delegates from Iowa and Ohio, among others. Both are considered important presidential campaign states.
Meanwhile, a handful of Maryland Democrats who are considering a run to replace O'Malley in 2014 also jockeyed for attention here. While those potential candidates made similar moves at the Maryland Association of Counties meeting in Ocean City last month, the audience in Charlotte was different: Most of the roughly 500 Marylanders on the ground were party volunteers, not elected officials.
"It's about party building," said Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, a leading potential candidate for governor. As Democrats campaign for Obama in Maryland, he said, they will be "exercising the party apparatus, the party machinery that we're going to need to be successful in 2014.
"And by 'we,'" he quickly added, "I mean the Democratic Party."
All of the potential future candidates in Maryland were eager to note that the spotlight in Charlotte has been on the presidential race, not local politics. One indication of that was how little fundraising took place in Charlotte. None of the potential gubernatorial candidates did any.
While there is the potential for a messy gubernatorial race to take shape after November, several delegates said they hope the party will remain unified as Democrats come out of the convention and focus on delivering a convincing margin for Obama in Maryland.
"The party needs to take a message to the average working American that things are getting better — you are better off," said Rep. Steny Hoyer, the Southern Maryland lawmaker who is the second-highest-ranking Democrat in the House. "You're going to see a very energized party coming out of this convention."