Bernie Sanders won Alaska’s Democratic Caucus this weekend, and Kodiak was definitely “feeling the Bern.” Democrats showed up in droves for the city’s democratic caucus Saturday. 201 people in all cast votes, 175 of which were for Sanders, 26 of which were for Hillary Clinton.
Fisherman’s Hall is packed full of people and the majority wear “Bernie 2016” stickers. People start lining up at least a half hour before the caucus begin, and are still trailing out the door after 10 a.m.
More than 90 people either registered today or changed their affiliation. Lori Siebe is one person who registered as a Democrat to vote for Sanders.
“He has shown that he is not a typical politician, he stands for what he believes in and he votes that way and he has historically. I believe in a lot of his views.”
For other people, this is the first time they’ll experience a caucus. Like 42-year Alaska resident, Harry Dodge, who says he hadn’t been aware that the caucus system existed in Alaska. Dodge says he’s more involved now because the upcoming election will be a critical one.
“The Republican party to me is very scary right now and I’m just out to see that they don’t hold sway on election day, and I think Bernie’s the most presidential candidate out there.”
And while Hillary Clinton supporters are in the minority, they are scattered among the crowd. Stacy Peterson says Clinton has experience.
“I don’t think there’s any better resume than she has having been secretary of state and a senator and a former first lady, all of that.”
But Bernie Sanders supporters dominate the space. I take the opportunity to ask why locals think Bernie Sanders has inspired such a big turnout in Kodiak. Here’s what they said.
“Bernie has excited something about fighting against the status quo.”
“It is speaking to the person on the street, it’s speaking to the little person, it’s asking the individual to do something and that’s something we’re good at in Alaska. The individual can rally for a good cause and make a difference. That’s what we’re trying to do here today.”
“I really believe because of his integrity, because of the fact that he’s fighting for us. We don’t have one percenters here. People realize he is fighting for the middle class. He is fighting for us.”
Secretary Treasurer of the Kodiak Democratic Party, Stosh Anderson, is heading up the caucus this year, and thinks back to the last time he saw a crowd like this one – the 2008 caucus during President Barack Obama’s first election.
“People can get excited about someone who speaks differently than the normal political rhetoric. Bernie’s a self-proclaimed left liberal and a lot of people are looking for change, and he’s saying what people want to hear.”
To vote, people drop blank, neon yellow cards into buckets marked with the names of the candidates. And by the time it comes for volunteers to count the contents, most people have fled the scene to enjoy the sun.
It was already clear who had won the city.