CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Aaron Wilder won his delegate slot to the Democratic National Convention only after assuring Oklahoma Democrats that he'd be old enough to vote by convention time.
He is — Wilder turned 18 in March — and the Putnam City North High School graduate will be inside the Time Warner Cable Arena on Tuesday as part of the Oklahoma delegation when the convention opens.
Wilder, of Oklahoma City, is already a campaign veteran. He got his start in 2010, when then-congressional candidate Billy Coyle, a friend, asked for his help at the Oklahoma State Fair one day.
After that, he worked on former Lt. Gov. Jari Askins' gubernatorial campaign; and last year, he was an intern for Organizing for America, the group formed after President Barack Obama's election in 2008 to continue grassroots organizing and advocacy for Obama.
Now, while going to the University of Central Oklahoma, Wilder is working as the field director for Paula Roberts' campaign in Norman for the state House of Representatives; she is running against incumbent Republican Aaron Stiles.
“It's been a whirlwind of opportunity for me, and it just pulled me into the entire process,'' Wilder said Sunday.
Obama's re-election, Wilder said, is going to depend on “young people's vision for a better tomorrow.”
It is clear that the president is trying to court the youth vote as the Nov. 6 election nears. He visited the University of Colorado on Sunday, the latest in a series of campaign speeches on college campuses.
The election, Obama said in Boulder, is “going to depend on you registering to vote. It's going to depend on you showing up to vote.”
Convention organizers are also promoting the various activities here focused on young people.
Wilder is not the only 18-year-old delegate among the 5,000 delegates and alternates selected for the convention, though it could not be determined Sunday which was the youngest. The Oklahoma delegation also has a 19-year-old alternate delegate, Anna Langthorn, of Edmond.
Wilder said he had been going to Young Democrats of America conferences for the past two years and would be attending activities with that group this week, along with LGBT — lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender — events.
On Sunday, Oklahoma delegates went to a welcoming party at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. They are scheduled to hear from former Oklahoma Sen. Fred Harris on Monday at their first delegation breakfast — Harris ran for president 40 years ago.
Some delegates also will march in a Labor Day parade in Charlotte.
Wilder said he found a home in the Democratic Party because, “I care about equality, and that's all forms of equality — civil equality, social equality, economic equality are all very important things to me and I think are the founding principles of the Democratic Party.
“It's the idea that it doesn't matter how much you have or what color your skin is or what your sexual orientation or gender identity is, that you deserve to participate in the American system, to participate in all forms of this democracy and economic system.”