The Congressional District Caucus

The Omni Center is too far from our house to get there by bike early on a Sunday, so Cathy promised to give us a ride and arranged to pick us up at 12:45. Just as in the county caucus, anyone arriving after 2pm would be shut out, so we wanted to get there early.

Also, getting there early allows for time to schmooze, which seemed more important to Cathy than it was to me.

The Omni Center is a rather bland complex on the northern fringes of Onalaska, with a basketball/hockey arena (arguably the biggest indoor hockey venue in the region) and a bunch of meeting rooms.

We were greeted at the door by a table with sign-in lists; a green list for Bernie delegates and a yellow list for Hillary delegates. We each found our printed name on the list and signed our name next to it. Then we were handed slips of paper to sign. We would need to present that slip of paper to get a ballot.

Once our legitimacy was established, we were directed to go down the hall and turn right. At the end of the hall was a door to a dark and empty hockey arena. To the right was a hallway lined with high tables leading to a large meeting room.

We found some friends from our La Crosse group at one of the tables and hung out there until it got closer to 2 o’clock. Cathy came by and nudged me to go in and schmooze. I couldn’t do it. Not yet.

When our cup of coffee ran out, I took it as a signal to find our seats. We opted for seats in the front row (because I like leg room) and close to the door (which means close to the rest room).

We were given self-sticking paper with which to make name tags. I was wearing my favorite travel shirt, which is made of lightweight technical material that turns out to be completely incompatible with self-adhesive name tags. So I had a hard time convincing my name tag to stick.

One of the other candidates, Bill from neighboring Monroe County, introduced himself to make his pitch for my support. Like everyone there, he was sincerely dedicated to the movement, but I interrupted him when I thought his pitch sounded too much like a resume of his activism so far.

I told him that what’s more important is “not what you’ve done, but what you’re going to do.” I meant my advice to be encouraging, as I was coaching myself a bit, too. “What do you bring to the Bernie delegation that will push this movement forward? What do you hope to accomplish at the convention? What do you hope to learn from this experience and bring home to your fellow activists?”

We wished each other well as we found our seats and the meeting was called to order.

The Caucus Begins

At our end of the meeting room was a whiteboard with the names of all Bernie delegate hopefuls. Men were listed in alphabetical order on the left and women were on the right. At the opposite end of the room was another whiteboard with a similar list of names for Hillary delegates.

The meeting began with both camps gathered in our end of the room. Some announcements were made about the state convention and the process for today’s voting. Once that business was taken care of, the Hillary people were sent to the back of the room. A partition was deployed between us and the caucus began.

Once again, we had a facilitator that did a fair and effective job, even though I have no idea how this important position is filled. She verified that each delegate candidate was present, and removed any from the board who weren’t.

Her next step was to ask anyone who wished to withdraw to call out their name, and she would erase it from the board. That got several more names removed from the board, which narrowed to 17 candidates (11 men and 6 women).

By rule, each candidate had one minute to speak. No one felt like that was enough. So a motion was made to extend the time limit to two minutes, and it easily passed by a voice vote.

Candidates came to speak in the order they were listed on the board: first the men, then the women, with each group in alphabetical order by last name. Each person talked of his/her dedication to the Bernie campaign, and most listed their experience in the campaign. Some were more comfortable than others addressing a group of eighty people with a TV camera in the room.

The facilitator used a stopwatch, and when two minutes were up she would quietly and politely approach the speaker from the side. The speaker would notice, some would sheepishly say, “is my time up?”, and with a quick thank you would politely yield to the next speaker. Everyone got at least a polite applause.

Obbie’s Turn To Speak

My turn came up, and I stood before the crowd holding these notes:

set the agenda
football analogy
go big (Kennedy/Moon)
reduce power of money
every other election matters

It wasn’t a well-prepared speech… it was more a list of things to talk about. Each line represented a story or a rant that was well committed to memory.

As it turned out, I only got to the third line before my time ran out. The speech turned out something like this:

My name is Obbie, and I’m a lifelong campaigner for ecological sustainability, economic fairness and social justice. The Bernie campaign is closer to my world view than any major party presidential campaign of my lifetime.. in fact, I haven’t seen this much excitement behind a campaign since Bobby Kennedy, which was a little before my time…

I rambled and stuttered a bit as I tried to talk about all the other important things that happen at conventions, the things that don’t get talked about on TV. But I was having a rough time with that part so I jumped ahead to the football analogy.

Since elections happen during football season, I like to use a football metaphor to contrast Bernie’s idealism with Hillary’s pragmatism. For instance, Bernie calls for universal health care, while Hillary wants to improve on Obamacare.

Those goals aren’t mutually exclusive. When a football team runs a play, it usually wants to get a touchdown. But that doesn’t mean we won’t accept first downs along the way. And when we get the first down, we don’t celebrate and go home. We go back out onto the field and keep moving the ball until we have a touchdown.

I saw people nodding in the crowd. Time to move onto the “Kennedy/Moon” line of my notes, a story I hadn’t used before.

Incrementalism doesn’t excite people, it’s the aspirational goals that do. When the Soviets were putting men into orbit in the early 60s, President Kennedy didn’t come before Congress and say, “let’s go into orbit.” No, he said “Let’s go to the Moon,” and that inspired and excited people to eventually get there.

This is our Moon shot, so let’s inspire and make history…

Or something like that.

I wasn’t sure where to go from there, but just as I checked my notes I noticed the facilitator quietly and politely approaching me to let me know my time was up. So that was a good ending. I thanked the crowd and sat down, wondering if the applause I was hearing sounded louder than it did for everyone else.

The Other Prospective Delegates

There was a guy named Bruce from a county further up the river who seemed very capable and well-spoken. Matthew is a young tall guy from central Wisconsin (we have a large and gerrymandered district) who also stood out as an effective communicator.

Among the women, Alicia is running for a Republican-held assembly seat in neighboring Vernon County, Jillian is a young candidate who articulates and presents herself very well. Our friend Xong spoke passionately of the work she does for the Hmong community.

As we were handed our first set of ballots, the facilitator read off the names on the board one more time, and each candidate stood up and waved or nodded to the crowd. So that was an efficient reminder to match names to faces. We wished we could pick at least twice as many candidates, but we could only choose two men and two women.

RoZ and I were both decided on voting for me on the men’s side (obviously), and for Xong on the women’s side. The Hmong community is a significant part of the population of this district, so it must be represented in the delegation. We can’t think of anyone who could represent and advocate for that community more effectively than Xong.

On the men’s side, my second vote went to Bruce and RoZ voted for Matthew. Since Bruce is close to my age, she thought that it would be better to have two generations represented rather than one. She was right.

We both gave our second women’s vote to Alicia. We marked our ballots, handed them in and were told that it’ll take a few minutes to count the ballots, so this would be a good time to take a break.

People started to stream out of the room, passing us as we sat in our front-row seats near the door. We were greeted with lots of smiles and thumbs-ups, and some even came by with warm words of encouragement. Wow, I guess I did connect!

As the counting was completed, numbers were written next to our names on the board. On the top was written, “42 needed to win.” My vote total was in the mid-30’s and Matthew was in the high 30’s. Alicia had something like 44 and was elected.

The Second Ballot

One man and several women who polled in the single digits withdrew. The facilitator asked Alicia to fill out a form, and the second round of ballots were handed out. We were asked to vote for two men and one woman. Again we handed in our ballots, took a break, and waited for them to be counted and for numbers to appear on the board.

When the numbers were written next to our names, my name had a number that was bigger than 42. Holy shit! I’m in! I stood up and waved a thank you to the room.

Matthew is still in the high 30’s, and none of the women have a majority. The facilitator gives me the same form she gave to Alicia, and the third ballot comes with instructions to vote for one man and one woman.

As the third set of ballots were being counted, I was filling out my delegate form while sitting and chatting with Xong.  It wasn’t much different from my first “declaration of intent” form. Name, address, contact info, etc. There was a section for “staff name”, “staff phone”, etc. I don’t have a “staff”, but RoZ will be with me so I guess that makes her my “staff”.

There were also the same “diversity” checkboxes. Am I African American, Native American, Hispanic, young, old, or diverse in any way? I remarked to Xong that I “feel diverse” even though I can’t check any of the diversity boxes. “There’s no check box for hippies!”

The reality hadn’t yet sunk in with RoZ. She asked whether there’s another level of voting I have to go thru before I’m a delegate. “No there isn’t, we’re going to Philadelphia.” I didn’t believe it either.

Matthew was easily elected on the third ballot. On the women’s side, Xong had the most votes but there was a three-way deadlock between Xong, Jillian, and a woman from central Wisconsin whose name I forget (sorry).

As the facilitator handed out the fourth round of ballots (vote for one woman), the prospect of an extended deadlock cast a pall over a tiring room full of people. Jillian said, “I’ll withdraw,” and Xong was easily elected on the fourth ballot.

As the caucus started to disband and people prepared to leave, a lot of people from various areas of the district came to greet and congratulate me and the other new delegates. A guy from central Wisconsin had discovered an Indian place in Onalaska and invited everyone to get together there afterwards.

We were counting on Cathy for our ride home, and she couldn’t join us for Indian food. But Xong was able to go, and could bring us home afterwards. So a group of about 15 of us congregated at the Indian restaurant in Onalaska’s Center 90 strip mall.

Alicia was there with a handful of Vernon County people. There were a few folks from the Eau Claire area, and some other random counties were represented. We shared war stories of the campaign, and tales of the other down-ballot races we are all involved in.

One of the Vernon County guys told me a story of the race on the Hillary side of the room. There were two slots available for men, and there were only three men running for those two delegate positions.

The one woman elected as a Hillary delegate is Vicky. So I guess we’re not finished crossing paths yet. I remember seeing her as I left the Omni Center, and I almost said, “see you in Philadelphia.”

Delegate Pitch

Right after the county caucus, Cathy put out an invitation to national delegate candidates: Write an email to make your case as to why you should be one of our four delegates.

I don’t know whether there will be a chance to speak to the CD caucus and make a pitch there. So if I’m going to run, I might as well try to win, and this is my best chance to articulate why I’m running.

I started writing this a few days ago, as I started to see emails from other candidates introducing themselves. (We have some great people running, I wish we could all go.) This is what I sent to the group today:

My name is Obbie; please allow me to introduce myself as a prospective Bernie delegate to the DNC.

A delegate does far more than cast a vote for Bernie on the convention floor. Delegates also decide on a party’s agenda and priorities for the coming years. So it’s important that our movement sends as many loud and persuasive voices as possible to Philadelphia, in order to insure the Democratic platform reflects the values of this campaign.

Even if we are in the minority, I believe that on many issues ($15 minimum wage, universal health care, free public university tuition, etc.) we can find enough Clinton delegates who agree with us to advance those issues onto the platform.

I also believe that a bold vision will bring far more success in the general election than cautious incrementalism. Our platform must reflect our aspirational goals, even though we may accept incremental steps that bring us closer those goals.

Getting a Democrat (hopefully Bernie!) into the White House will be meaningless if we cannot elect a Democratic House and Senate. And a Democratically-controlled federal government will be of little comfort to citizens living in states controlled and dominated by the other party.

So this convention must produce a vision that will motivate citizens to vote for Democrats everywhere on the ballot. We must also find ways to channel and unify the immense energy and enthusiasm of ALL Democrats toward a victory in November.

To bring Bernie’s movement to the DNC is a tall order, but I feel that I can help to bring that about. I’ve spent my entire adult life as a campaigner for ecological sustainability, economic fairness, and social justice. I know how to convey a convincing argument quickly and succinctly, and  I’m not afraid to politely engage with someone I might disagree with.

Most of all, the movement behind the Bernie campaign is more in sync with my world-view than any other presidential campaign in my lifetime. Win or lose, I am determined to move our movement forward into a dominant position for the general election.

I would be honored to serve as a Bernie delegate to help make these things happen, and I humbly ask for your vote to help me get there.

Thank you.

County Caucus Aftermath

Cathy is showing her chops as an organizer. At the end of the county caucus this afternoon, someone managed to get the list of people who were there, along with their email addresses. Now Cathy has started an email list of our county’s delegates to the CD caucus (the 31 who showed up this afternoon) and she’s sent out a message running down what happens next, including a lot of speculative numbers.

On May 1 we all show up at the Omni Center for a larger version of what happened today. I am not sure how many people each county sends to this caucus. Roughly speaking, I would say there will be ABOUT 300 total people at this convention and about 175 (at most) will be Bernie people. This is if every county fills its total delegates/Bernie quotas. And out of those 175 +/- people, we will elect 4 delegates, 2 men and 2 women to go on to the national convention for Bernie.

I believe that means we will all get ballots listing those who submitted forms to be a delegate for Bernie AND attended their county caucus and we will vote for four people. If one or more people get at least 51% of the vote, they are automatically elected. If fewer than 4 get 51% on the first ballot, there is a second ballot, etc. until all four delegate positions have been filled.

This was followed by a discussion of the number of Bernie votes in various other counties, and an intriguing suggestion: “ avoid some no shows like we had today, I would like to propose that we match up with caucus buddies so if on May 1 someone just really doesn’t feel like it, their cb can urge them to go.” That’s a good idea! Then, in the next sentence: “I am going to be the Purplearth caucus buddy.”

Cathy’s push for me to go just got a bit less subtle.

I got curious about numbers after reading Cathy’s email, and I eventually found a chart deep within this page that listed the number of delegates from each county. I found out that our county is the biggest in the district, and that our group is going to a caucus in our back yard while all the other counties’ delegates will have to travel.

I am confident that La Crosse County will have a lot to say about who the 3rd District’s Bernie delegates will be. But then I look at this list and I see 47 people running for four positions. So it’s still a long shot.

La Crosse County Caucus

The county caucus was held in a meeting room on the third floor of Cartright Center, the UW-La Crosse student center. We were told the doors open at 1, and that they would be closed at 2. That meant that anyone arriving at 2:05 would be locked out from participating.

So we all showed up early. RoZ and I got on the limo for the short ride to the caucus and arrived with ample time to spare.

We were greeted at the door by a person asking us to sign in, and then milled around waiting for the meeting to start. At the front of the room was a whiteboard with the names of everyone in the county who had declared intention to be a national delegate for Bernie.

In the back of the room was a mobile whiteboard with a shorter list of names who hope to be Hillary delegates. I saw my old friend Vicky’s name at the top of the list.

The Rules of Politics told me that this was a time to schmooze with the other people at the meeting. But most of them were people we knew and had worked with on the local campaign. Political schmoozing just felt fake.

But there was one guy who was doing so. He seemed a bit doofy as he came around and chatted us up for a bit. I kept getting distracted by his t-shirt, which bore an image of Trump as an orange smurf. Can you take someone seriously who’s wearing that?

Eventually the clock struck two, and a woman came to the front of the room and called the meeting to order. I never did find out who she was, or who or what determined that she should be the one to run this caucus, but she did a fair and able job of what turned out to be a simple task.

The Hillary people disappeared to another room, and a roll call was taken of the names on the board. To advance to the CD caucus, you had to show up at this meeting. One or two national delegate candidates weren’t there, so their names were erased from the board.

But our job today was to elect a slate of 32 delegates to the CD caucus, and there were fewer than ten names on the board. The facilitator invited each person who intended to go to the CD caucus to add her/his name to the board.

After we got everyone in the room to commit to showing up at the Omni Center in two weeks, there were 31 names on the board. So we came up short of filling our allocated delegation. By a simple voice vote, this slate of CD delegates was elected. It wasn’t even 2:30, and we were ready to go home.

Apparently the Hillary people finished their job just as quickly, as Vicky was staffing the greeter’s table as we left. All I could do was to smile and say, “see you in a coupla weeks.”

Bernie Wins the Primary!

Bernie won the primary!

The margin was roughly 57-43, which is a good margin statewide. Of Wisconsin’s 86 pledged delegates, 48 go to Bernie and 38 go to Hillary.

But the margins at the county level and the congressional district level matter as well, since delegates at those levels are assigned based on the vote at that level.

We knew that La Crosse County would get 51 delegates to the CD caucus. We now know that 32 will be Bernie delegates, and 19 will be Hillary delegates. Bernie did well in La Crosse County.

The 3rd Congressional District sends 7 delegates (four men and three women) to the DNC. We now know that four will be Bernie delegates, and two men and one woman will be Hillary delegates.

So when we hold our county caucus in ten days, we’ll be choosing the 32 Bernie delegates to go to the CD caucus on May 1. The Bernie delegates from all of the counties in the district will decide who goes to Philadelphia.

Cathy has been poking me with emails today. She started with a message to all of us who attended that meeting in late March: “who’s still planning to run for delegate?” I told her I was still planning, which was followed by her asking whether I’d sent in my form. Of course, I had already turned in my form at the meeting.

Cathy replied, “great!!! I am doing it now. Do really want to go and don’t have a snowball’s chance, but just in case.” Knowing Cathy, I’m not sure the “Do” wasn’t a typo that was supposed to be “Don’t”. Her reply was a strange mix of encouragement for my declaration, and Eyeore-like low expectations for her own.

But for now, we have a long list of La Crosse people in the running to go to Philadelphia.

Getting Out the Vote

Tonight we had a big “get out the vote” rally at the Cavalier. The venue is a bar in downtown La Crosse attached to a 300-seat theatre. The stage which once hosted community theatre productions is now showcasing local and touring musicians.

The owner of the venue was gracious enough to host our event rent-free for two reasons: 1) He is a huge Bernie supporter. 2) It’s Monday night, and this event will draw a lot more people to the bar than the alternative event, which was “nothing.”

Some prominent local bands volunteered their time to perform, and we expected to draw a crowd. This would give us a chance to motivate people to vote, and to help them with finding their polling place and navigating the new voter suppression rules.

It was also a great gathering of local Bernie activists, many who I had only known as names in my email stream. So tonight I got to actually meet some of them for the first time.

Cathy is our main local organizer, who seems to have turned her entire life over to campaign work. We’ve known each other a long time, as we both show up every time there is a progressive issue to fight for or an event to plan. Cathy has also applied to be a delegate, and she has paid the dues that would entitle her to go.

She seems unenthusiastic about becoming a delegate herself while working hard to stoke my enthusiasm. Every reason I give to not go is shot down with a solution to the problem.

“It costs too much.” – “We can fundraise.”

“We’ll be in Philadelphia for the first time since we lived there, but will have no time to do Philadelphia stuff.” – “You can go a few days early and do Philadelphia stuff then.”

Cathy doesn’t want to go, but she doesn’t want me to not want to go.

I had volunteered to be emcee for this event, but I ended up sharing the job with a young guy named Mike. Mike seemed to have everything well under control as he introduced the first musical act. But when that guy finished, Mike gave him a nice extro, said a few words about the other acts scheduled, and then said, “that’s all I’ve got” and left the stage ten minutes before the next act would be ready.

So I got up to talk about the importance of early voting (a moot point tonight, as early voting ended last Friday). I explained the rules that would be in force due to Wisconsin’s new voter suppression law: what kind of ID is valid, how to do on-site registration, bring proof of address if your address doesn’t match the address on your ID, etc.

I raised the importance of another contest on the ballot: the Wisconsin Supreme Court race. If Joanne Kloppenburg does not beat Rebecca Bradley, we’ll end up with yet another Scott Walker crony on the court.

One woman in the crowd asked if she could talk about how to help with voter turnout tomorrow. I asked her name so I could introduce her, and she said, “Beth.”

Beth was one of those names that was prominent in my email stream. Her house has been ground zero for phone-banking, door-knocking and other elements of the local campaign ground game. I’m glad I finally got to meet her.

Best of all, she loves Tugg, the band preparing to play next. She filled up the remaining time and got to introduce them much more enthusiastically than I could have.


When I saw Mike later, he thanked me for rescuing him and filling time. He is now aware that to kill time is an important element of the emcee skill set.

The last introduction I got to do tonight was the closest I’ll ever get to introducing Bernie himself. There’s a guy in the Vernon County Bernie crowd who puts on a blue suit and combs his hair the right way and ends up looking like Bernie Sanders. I introduced him as “Vernie Sanders,” and he did a bit of schtick lifted from Bernie’s stump speeches until the next band was ready.

In the end, we had a bit smaller crowd than we had hoped for. Maybe it was because college basketball’s national championship game was tonight. Maybe it was because it’s Monday. At any rate, it was enough of a crowd to be lively, and it was a great get-together and morale booster for those who had spent weeks working toward tomorrow’s primary.

Fact Checking and Getting Realistic

I was confused by some of the information we were given last night, especially what we were told about hotels and venues and locations. The confusion came from getting information that conflicted with my knowledge of the geography of Philadelphia, knowledge derived from two years of living there in the 1990’s.

We kept being told the convention is at “the Wells Fargo Center”, and that our hotel is “across the street.” This didn’t sound right, as I knew that all the hotels are near the convention center downtown, and that there are no hotels near the basketball arena.

I did some research last night and reported back today to the rest of the group:

Having lived in Philadelphia for two years as a computer/A-V technician, I was intimately familiar with the downtown convention center, major hotels and other venues.

The “Wells Fargo Center” is what we called Spectrum II. It’s the basketball arena on the site once occupied by JFK stadium, part of a sports complex on the southern fringe of the city. A baseball stadium and football stadium occupy the other corners, and they all share what seems like miles of parking lots. There are NO hotels anywhere close to this complex, the closest being near the airport, a few more miles down the freeway. There is a Septa (subway) station there with an easy connection to Center City.

The Wisconsin delegation is assigned to the Home2 Suites by Hilton, which is “across the street” from the downtown convention center. It appears that the breakout meetings and caucuses are happening there (it would be stupid not to use a facility that was BUILT for this kind of thing), then everybody gets on a bus at the end of the afternoon for a half-hour ride to the festivities at the arena.

So the Wells Fargo Center is NOT downtown (the Pennsylvania Convention Center IS).

Our hotel is NOT across the street from the Wells Fargo Center, but it IS across from the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

We will have to commute between the hotel and Wells Fargo, which could take a half-hour or more, especially during afternoon rush hour.

Philadelphia in late July is hot and muggy. The DNC must be a huge coup for the city, as nothing ever happens (trade shows, etc.) in the summer because the weather is so miserable (“Trade show season” is spring and fall). There could also be raucous storms at that time of year.

Center City Philadelphia is one of the most awesome old cities in the country, and it is also one of the most overlooked. Most of the cool stuff in the tourist brochures is within an easy walk from the hotel (I could write a note five times as long as this one describing just the stuff that’s within two blocks), along with much cooler stuff that doesn’t get talked about.

The “How to Become a Delegate” Meeting

Tonight there was a meeting for people interested in becoming a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. A guy from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) gave a presentation outlining the process for selecting delegates. There was also a lot of discussion on what to expect as a delegate at the convention.

The local Bernie activists were well-represented at this meeting. Many of us were curious about the idea of running, and came to get questions answered. I wanted to know about the process, and whether that process would allow someone like me to become a delegate.

The rules for allocating delegates based on primary voting are incredibly convoluted. The rules for selecting the actual delegates are even more so. And those rules are different in every state.

In Wisconsin, we get a total of 86 pledged delegates. 57 of those are divided among the eight congressional districts. In addition, there are 19 “at-large” delegates, and ten “Pledged Party Leaders and Elected Officials.” PPLEOS are different from Wisconsin’s ten superdelegates in that they are each pledged to a candidate.

At Large Delegates are selected to bring better balance to the diversity of the delegation. As a white guy, I can’t tick any of the check-boxes for diversity, so I will be applying as a CD delegate.

The process begins with the submission of a “statement of intent” form to the DPW. It’s a very simple form that asks for basic “name, address, phone, email…” info. There’s a space to fill in candidate preference and the diversity checkboxes. It took less than five minutes to fill the form out and hand it back before I left the meeting.

Our district gets seven delegates – four men and three women. These will be allocated between Hillary and Bernie based on the primary election results in the district, and chosen at the CD caucus. Our caucus will be at the OmniCenter in Onalaska (about 15 miles north of here) on Sunday May 1.

Delegates to the CD caucus are selected at county caucuses. Each county is allocated a number of delegates based on population (or more accurately, the population of Democratic voters), and those delegates will be divided between Bernie and Hillary according to the primary election result in that county.

In the case of La Crosse county, we have 51 delegates to the CD caucus. These delegates will be elected at the county caucus, which will be at Cartwright Center (the local university’s student center) on Sunday April 17.

We were advised on political strategy: Bring your friends to the County caucus and get them elected as delegates to the CD caucus where they can then vote to send you to Philadelphia.

At the CD caucus it may be necessary to form alliances. Since we vote for several people at a time, allies can say “my people will vote for you if your people will vote for me.” Someone at the meeting commented that that was rather unseemly, but many of the rest of us said, “that’s politics.”

Many of us who attended this meeting began to balk at the cost of attending the convention. The party provides no subsidies to delegates, so we must fund our own travel and lodging expenses. On the other hand, we’re told we “won’t have to worry about food.”

The Wisconsin delegation has a block of rooms in a hotel across the street from the main convention center, but rooms are $400/night. We are strongly encouraged (but not required) to stay in that hotel. The reason is that we meet for breakfast each morning and must pick up our credentials before 9, and it makes it easier to assemble the delegation on short notice… something that’s likely to happen more than once.

So I get it. Staying outside the official hotel will be a major pain. On the other hand, the rooms are spacious enough that lower-income delegates can double up and cut the expense. And we are not only permitted to fund-raise, we are encouraged to do so. So maybe the expense could be whittled down.

At this point, I didn’t know if that is ever going to become an issue. It’s a long shot. I mean, surely there must be many other Bernie supporters in the district far more capable than me who want to do this, right?

As the meeting ended, the room began to fill with local Democratic party activists assembling for their monthly meeting. Aren’t these the kind of people who usually become convention delegates? Do I have any chance at all against these long-time party stalwarts, many of whom have been office-holders for many years?

Even if I don’t go to Philadelphia, playing out my role in the delegate selection process will be a unique experience which shouldn’t cost much of anything. So, what’s to lose by trying?

Vicky, the county chairperson, looked at me suspiciously as I greeted people on my way out. With the county caucus coming in two weeks, all I could do was smile and say, “see you in a coupla weeks.”