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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Sanders delegates from Idaho use crowdfunding for help getting to convention

By Kimberlee Kruesi Associated Press

BOISE – 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 20 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 a GoFundMe account.

“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 $5.”

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.