California will send more delegates than any other state to next week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland. And herding this large pack of elephants is neither easy nor cheap.
It’s not just the 172 Donald Trump delegates that the California Republican Party is sending to the RNC. There are alternates, guests and sponsors – 550 people from all over California, arriving in Cleveland on different days, at different times, with different needs.
“It’s a logistical challenge,” says state GOP chair Jim Brulte. “You’re moving hundreds of people from California. And even though they’re paying their own airfare and their own lodging, the delegation has significant transportation costs, and there’s staffing costs.”
What makes that challenge even harder is where the California delegation is staying: 60 miles west of the convention in Sandusky. Clearly, Republicans don’t consider the Golden State a swing state.
So in addition to paying for their airfare and lodging, delegates, alternates and guests must also pay the state party a $900 delegation fee. Those hour-long bus rides – and the side trips to amusement parks or the Pro Football Hall of Fame – don’t come cheap. (Although for comparison, Brulte says, the Arizona RNC delegation is paying an $1,800 fee.)
And then, there are the sponsors.
“Depending on the level of sponsorship, you get free hotel rooms, credentials for the convention, participation in all of our delegation activities,“ Brulte says. “It’s as if you’re part of the delegation.”
Brulte says sponsorships range from $15,000 to $200,000. The largest sponsors are several Indian tribes and the state prison guards’ union.