Democrats nominate Hillary Clinton for president.
Call it the Interstate Convention, with Delaware’s delegates making a short trip up I-95 to the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
But that doesn’t mean First Staters who headed to Philadelphia will be able to save a lot of money, said Kent County Democratic Party Chairman John Mancus. While some may opt to head back home each night, most will be staying in hotels near the convention.
And that can be costly, he said.
“It’s not inexpensive, with hotel rooms now costing $450 a night,” Mancus said. While some delegates have had expenses partially paid for, the majority are paying their own way.
Estimates place the cost of attending a convention upward of $3,000, a slice of reality that tends to limit who can afford to go.
“It’s like an expensive vacation, but you don’t get to do much vacationing,” said Sussex County chairman Mitch Crane. “We’ve had people resign as delegates because they can’t spend the money.”
But with concerns over just-revealed emails threatening to overwhelm other news coming out of the gathering, just how much delegates pay out of their own pockets is probably the last thing on organizers’ minds.
Over the weekend, emails from hacked Democratic National Committee accounts showed a conscious effort to promote former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the nomination over rival Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Even before these revelations, Crane said different factions in the party needed to coalesce with the single aim of defeating Republican Donald Trump.
“I’m expecting to bring the party together and to unify what still needs to be unified,” he said. “We need to make people enthusiastic, not just those who are [in Philadelphia] but those who read about it so they understand the task of Hillary Clinton and [vice presidential nominee Sen.] Tim Kaine, that these are people who understand the issues and that they have a plan to address them.” A successful Clinton/Kaine race also should help elect more Democrats in the First State, Crane noted.=
Delaware is sending 34 delegates to the convention center, including 11 “super delegates” that include Vice President Joe Biden, Gov. Jack Markell and the three members of the state’s Congressional delegation.
Crane expects this experience to be different from his first convention – the 1968 Democratic gathering where he was one of hundreds of protestors set upon by Chicago police.
“It was scary,” he recalled. “It was one thing to be there demonstrating and knowing possibly something could happen. But you don’t think the people there to protect you would be unleashed on you and you’d be clubbed and trampled on.”
While there are protests outside the convention center, Crane is hoping for relative peace within. The platform reflects concerns Sanders brought up and with the recent rise of Trump’s numbers in national polls, no one wants to see a split in the party that could lead to a Republican victory, he said.
That should be evident when Clinton makes her acceptance speech Thursday.
“I think people will see that the Democratic ticket is optimistic and is qualified to lead this country for the next four years,” he said.
This is the first convention experience for Dover’s Sandy Taylor, although she attended the 2004 John Kerry/John Edwards gathering in Boston as a page, running errands for various delegates. That convention saw the national debut Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, who gave a speech Taylor said “just wowed the crowd.”
“I didn’t even know who he was, but I knew I’d never forget him,” she said.
Twelve years later, Taylor will have a front row seat for a woman who could be Obama’s successor.
As far as Clinton herself, Taylor acknowledges the candidate has issues with trust and veracity, but still considers the former first lady to be superior to the Republican alternative.
“I don’t say that just because I’m a Democrat,” she said. “It’s because of her knowledge; she’s done everything that people running for president should have a clue about. There are Democrats who are worried about how she’ll do, but I still think they’ll back her because she’s our best choice.”