When I spoke to Dana Jones a few weeks ago, the state delegate mentioned with pride that she had been elected to represent her congressional district at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago next month.

I thought, OK. Who cares?

It’s been decades since the Democrats hadn’t settled on their nominee months ahead of the convention. The gathering is just balloons with speeches and a predetermined outcome.

Until it’s not.

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With clamor growing for President Joe Biden to step aside as the nominee, we all should suddenly care very much about who attends the convention in August. Because these Democrats, most of them people you’ve never heard of, could — maybe — have a say in what happens next in this craziest of presidential election dramas.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore will lead a delegation of 118 Democrats to Chicago, where they will meet from Aug. 19-22. All of them are pledged to Biden on the first ballot.

President Joe Biden talks with Gov. Wes Moore during a visit to the site of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse on April 5. (Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner)

Many are top state officials chosen by the Maryland party, including Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller, Attorney General Anthony Brown, Comptroller Brooke Lierman, state Treasurer Dereck E. Davis, Secretary of State Susan C. Lee, state Senate President Bill Ferguson, House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones, House Majority Whip Jazz Lewis, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski Jr. and Prince George’s County Executive and Angela Alsobrooks.

The party also chooses 20 at-large delegates. They include up-and-coming Democrats like state Sen. Sarah Elfreth, the Democratic candidate for Congress in the 3rd District, political operatives, activists for Democratic issues, and people with party connections.

Then there are automatic or superdelegates, including Moore, members of Congress, 12 Democratic National Committee members and one distinguished party leader.

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The majority were elected during the May 14 primary to represent their congressional districts or serve as alternates.

For Annapolis, that’s the 3rd. Delegates include Jones, a state delegate from Annapolis, Anne Arundel Democratic party chair Dylan Behler, Jennifer Chang of Howard County, state Sen. Guy Guzzone of Howard County, disability rights advocate Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, Democratic legislative aide Henry Snurr and Moore administration officials Matthew Verghese and Lucinda Ware.

A few check multiple boxes. Alsobrooks is running for Ben Cardin’s open U.S. Senate seat, and Olszewski is running for Congress in the 2nd District. Scott was elected and appointed. State Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk is going, as is her daughter, Alejandra Melnyk. She worked as a field operative for Alsobrooks’ primary challenger, U.S. Rep. David Trone.

OK, some background if you haven’t been paying attention — who are you?

Biden is an old man. Lots of Democrats have always been sort of, meh, about him. He was a long-serving senator from Delaware (a meh state) and a very amusing vice president. He was elected in 2020 over an egomaniacal incumbent, Donald Trump.

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Trump, too, is also an old man. He’s a wealthy businessman (just how wealthy is a subject of debate, especially now that he faces hundreds of millions in legal judgments) who says hateful, stupid things with depressing regularity, did a miserable job managing the COVID pandemic, encouraged a mob to storm the U.S. Capitol to stop Biden from being certified the winner, has been indicted in three criminal cases related to the 2020 election, and convicted in another for a hush money payoff to a porn star during the 2016 race.

Some people love Trump. I’m not one of them, which angers them. Heads up: It’s not Trump derangement syndrome if he scares the hell out of you for good reason.

And, quelle horreur, I like Biden. He’s not an Ivy League elitist. He may be a professional pol, but he’s done well as a president with a divided Congress (immigration reform is an exception) and a conservative U.S. Supreme Court (I think an open society, closed society is better for left and right today).

He loves his family, including one son who died after serving in Iraq and another who is a ne’er-do-well with addictions and his own legal problems.

So I was as freaked out as anyone when the 81-year-old president appeared frail, confused and even like he was having difficulty breathing during the CNN debate last week with Trump, 78. Trump stayed true to his style (aka, liar, liar pants on fire) but managed to sound physically healthy while doing it.

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I wasn’t the only one shouting answers at a lost Biden. Half the country is worried about a second Trump presidency, while the other half wants to bet the future on the king of chaos.

National news pundits, Democrats who never liked Biden and back benchers started calling for Scranton Joe (don’t get him started on his childhood in Pennsylvania) to step out to make way for ... well, anybody else.

It got worse this week. U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, a key ally in winning support among Black voters, said he would support Vice President Kamala Harris if the president pulls out. Former speaker Nancy Pelosi said there should be a discussion and The New York Times reported on White House staff members saying Biden increasingly has good days and bad days.

Good days and bad days? Crap.

Then, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that presidents have total immunity for official acts. Were they protecting Trump from his current trials, or Biden? Trump is threatening payback prosecutions if he wins, and immunity for official acts cuts both ways.

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This court already has struck down reproductive rights, environmental regulations and voter rights protections.

Wednesday night, Biden held a conference with governors to … what? Reassure them or gauge an exit strategy?

Moore acknowledged to me last weekend that voters in Wisconsin, where he was campaigning for Biden, were freaking out. But he said the next step was to get to work.

Moore, a darling of the Democrats as the first Black governor of Maryland, has said he won’t seek the nomination if Biden withdraws. But there are a bunch of governors who might: Gavin Newsom of California, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania and even Andy Beshear of Kentucky. That doesn’t even consider Biden’s veep, Harris.

Biden’s television interview Friday night with ABC correspondent George Stephanopoulos could be a crucial moment.

All caught up? OK. It’s a lot.

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the collapse of Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26, 2024. Could we see another address to the nation? (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

If Biden sticks with his decision to run, and there’s every reason to believe he will, Maryland’s Democratic delegates will vote for him unanimously when they call the roll for the great state of Maryland. Moore or Miller will likely announce the state’s vote from the convention floor.

But if Biden were to bow out, it’s anybody’s guess. The Democrats haven’t had an open convention since tumultuous 1968 — in Chicago. All delegates would be free to vote their choices. Superdelegates chosen by the national party have to vote with their state on the first ballot, but then get to shift to another candidate on the second ballot.

The 63 delegates elected by district are state lawmakers, local government officials, Moore administration figures, teachers, lawyers, doctors, students, union leaders and political operatives. There are several repeat candidates for office and one self-described couch potato.

They are young and old, white, Black, Asian and Hispanic, straight, gay and trans, urban, suburban and rural. The rules for selecting them resulted in a delegation evenly divided among men and women. They have to pay their own way to Chicago.

Potential replacements for Biden would work the state delegations for support. Maryland is a small state, but not the smallest; it ranks 14th in delegate count. The nominee would be the first to compile 2,258 votes, so which way the state and Moore go would matter.

None of the delegates were eager to talk about this on Wednesday. To do so, in the eyes of some, risks appearing disloyal.

Moore emerged from that Wednesday night meeting and clearly put himself on the side of Biden staying in the race.

“The contrast between candidates could not be more clear in this election. President Biden believes in Maryland’s promise. Donald Trump thinks Baltimore, my state’s largest city, is ‘a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.’ Those are the stakes. I know President Biden has Maryland’s back, so I’ve got his.”

But every day the fever for change doesn’t break, it becomes more likely these people from around Maryland will help choose the man or woman whose main job will be keeping Trump, our 45th president, from becoming our 47th.