From the beginning, millennials have flocked to Bernie Sanders. Yet getting that young flock of delegates to Monday’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia can be a challenge when the price tag ranges as high as $5,000.
Steep costs associated with both the Republican and Democratic conventions have caused an explosion of crowdfunding campaigns this year. But while online accounts have been launched on both sides of the aisle, the influx of young delegates trying to get to their first national convention has stemmed predominantly from the Sanders camp.
In Idaho, more than half of the delegates pledged to support Sanders are millennials who created GoFundMe pages to help cover the costs of attending the convention. In comparison, just two of the state’s delegates pledged to Hillary Clinton created similar crowdfunding accounts, and one of Idaho’s four superdelegates created GoFundMe accounts.
“I knew it would be a lot,” said Sanders delegate Chrystal Allen, of Boise. “The state party tried to inform everybody at the beginning what the price tag could potentially be.”
Allen, 27, said her original goal was to raise $4,000, but she eventually lowered it after finding out Idaho delegates secured cheaper hotel rooms than some other delegates.
As the money trickled in, delegates booked plane tickets and hotel rooms designated by the Democratic National Committee. Now, many still hope to raise enough cash for transportation, food and any other expenses that might pop up during the trip.
Party leaders say no one will be left behind because of a lack of funding. The state party received $9,000 from the Sanders campaign to help with delegates’ travel, and raised roughly $17,000 to divide among delegates and staffers.
“I’ve gotten contributions from people I’ve never met,” Allen said. “That’s part of the messaging of the Sanders campaign. We are all in this together, even if you give five dollars.”
Meanwhile, the Democratic mayor of Syracuse, N.Y., donated $1,500 to five of her state’s Sanders delegates who set up a GoFundMe page. The donation got the delegates to their goal of $4,000, enough to pay for transportation and four days of lodging in Philadelphia.
The Democratic National Committee is in charge of selecting hotels for each state’s delegation. These hotels serve as the states’ headquarters, and delegates are pressured to stay in them, regardless of the cost.
“I know firsthand that these are expensive trips,” Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner told The Associated Press. “I thought it was a way to encourage the Sanders people to stay involved.”
Miner, herself a Clinton delegate, said generous individuals have helped her throughout her political career, and she knows what it’s like to see your candidate lose a tightly fought contest.
“Part of being involved in politics is understanding that you fight for what you believe in,” she said. “Sometimes you lose, but you have to stay involved in the process.”
In Vermont, about six of the 22 delegates supporting Sanders launched GoFundMe campaigns, said one of them, Claudia Pringles of Montpelier, a lawyer who specializes in disabilities law. Vermont has 26 delegates headed to Philadelphia after Sanders won 86 percent of his home-state vote in the March Democratic primary.
Pringles said she reached her fundraising goal of $2,800 on Wednesday.
“I’d find the money elsewhere if I needed to,” Pringles said. “I’m an attorney, but most of my clients are low-income.” She added she might be able to extend some help to other Vermont delegates who need it.