Bernie Sanders, or just “Bernie” to his fond supporters, is one of the leading presidential candidates alongside Hillary Clinton in the upcoming Democratic Caucus in Alaska, a state known to be fiercely independent with a tendency to lean towards more conservative candidates.
Jill Yordy, the Alaska state coordinator for the Bernie Sanders campaign, says Sanders appeals to those who have not wanted to be involved in the political process in the past. She says he attracts Alaskans registered as independent or who have not declared a party affiliation.
“In Alaska, we have a lot of people that are registered either undeclared or non-partisan, and so I’m feeling very optimistic that Alaskans will largely support Bernie because he does appeal to those groups. He is wanting to reform the way that campaigns are financed, get corruption out of our elections, and I think a lot of people are really responding to that message.”
Yordi says the response to Sanders has been enthusiastic.
“I’ve seen excitement all over the state. We’ve got organizers at offices in five different locations and then we’ve had an organizer actually traveling out in rural Alaska and it seems like every community, every community that we’ve called into, there’s definitely supporters that are feeling the “bern.” They’re really excited for this election.”
Alaska provides a unique challenge as a campaign ground with its small, spread-out communities, and Yordi says the national campaign understands that.
“And I think that’s part of the reason that they wanted to hire somebody who actually has lived in Alaska and knows a little bit more of the situation on the ground, and so I do a lot of conveying to them about some of the logistical struggles, the fact that we don’t have roads that go everywhere, the fact that you do have to take planes or ferries or dog sleds into the different places.”
But that’s only a physical obstacle. Campaigners can use their phones, the internet, and the old classic, the mail service.
“To the best of our ability, we’ve been working to move towards being able to reach out to even the smallest locations and a lot of that happens through networking and word of mouth, and … so we’ve been employing a lot of different strategies to make sure we’re reaching as many people as we can, given Alaska’s unique specifics.”
A campaign representative recently visited Kodiak and spoke with local Democrats. The campaign is gearing up for the Alaska Democratic Caucus on Saturday. In Kodiak, that event will begin at 10 a.m. at Fisherman’s Hall.