A teenager from Mendota Heights who described himself as the "token conservative" in his high school class is spending the week in Cleveland on the floor of the Republican National Convention.
"It's an interesting, enlightening, fantastic experience," Patrick Commers, a convention floor page, said Tuesday afternoon outside Quicken Loans Arena. The tall, lanky 18-year-old ("I turn 19 on Friday") is decked out in the page uniform -- blue blazer, khaki pants and an elephant print tie -- and weighted down by a string of credentials around his neck.
Commers is working as a floor page at the GOP gathering. Each morning, Commers and his cohorts head to the convention hall early in the morning, before the thousands of delegates and alternates arrive, and cover every chair with paperwork -- convention rulebooks, copies the party platform and the like.
Commers is the son of Tim and Kelli Commers. His dad is a former Republican state representative who also worked for Gov. Tim Pawlenty and U.S. Rep. John Kline. Weeks back at his parents urging, Commers applied to be Minnesota's page to the convention. He wrote a one-page essay about how Republicans can connect to young voters, and was chosen over several other candidates after an interview with convention planners.
In the evening sessions, pages help pass out signs and other materials to delegates. Commers found himself with plenty of down time during Monday night's session, and he got to indulge his budding tendencies as a political junkie.
"I was standing by Trump's suite," Commers said. "I saw Bob Dole. Ben Carson was there for a while. Mike Pence was sitting there for a long time."
Commers graduated this spring from St. Paul Academy, where he said his class "was like 85 percent liberal." He's headed to Bates College in Maine this fall where he hopes to study economics and political science.
"I applied to 16 schools and that's the best one I got into," he said. So is Commers interested in a political career of his own?
"I don't want to say about that right now, but I'll get back to you," he said.