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What goes into being a convention delegate? For starters, some travel expenses

in 2017/Top Headlines by

This wild 2016 campaign season, we’ve heard a lot about delegates.

Pledged delegates. Superdelegates. “Unbound” delegates. Delegate math. Delegate count. The delegate tracker!

The nation (er, actually just political junkies in this great land of ours) is tracking delegates the way people living in prefab housing in Oklahoma stay glued to the local news when a twister comes roaring through their subdivision.

But just who are these mythical delegates?

They can be elected officials, party bigwigs, campaign organizers, and even just passionate, committed volunteers to either the Republican or Democratic cause.

In Jacksonville, on the Republican side, the list features such bold-faced names as Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and seasoned GOP strategist Susie Wiles, among others.

But not all delegates are names you would recognize, from either party.

For example, meet North Florida delegate Matt Killen. A committed #FeeltheBern-er, Killen will be representing in Philadelphia when the Democrats convene this summer (to nominate Hillary Clinton presumably as their standard-bearer).

Killen has been tapped as a Party Leader At-Large (PLEO) delegate for the Bernie Sanders campaign — one of 10 from Florida who will be on the convention floor. He campaigned actively for the position on social media.

“The PLEO is suggested by the campaign and confirmed by the delegates as well,” Killen tells, who adds, Sanders supporters have been gratified to see that their chosen candidate will apparently have some juice at the convention when it comes to crafting the party platform.

“I am very excited about the Sanders camp having a large say on what the party platform will be, because if Sanders does or doesn’t win, the people still win,” he says.

Killen adds, the logistics of actually serving as a delegate can be a barrier for some.

“I’m happy that I have a way of getting there and will have housing. However, I am put off a bit on how expensive the process is. The trip will cost the average delegate about $4,000 in travel and hotels. It’s good for Philly’s economy and bad for democracy.”

He’s not alone. Hundreds of young delegates to the DNC are dealing with their sticker shock by taking to GoFundMe to pay for their trip to Philly.

In addition to her work writing for Florida Politics, Melissa Ross also hosts and produces WJCT’s First Coast Connect, the Jacksonville NPR/PBS station’s flagship local call-in public affairs radio program. The show has won four national awards from Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). First Coast Connect was also recognized in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014 as Best Local Radio Show by Folio Weekly’s “Best Of Jax” Readers Poll and Melissa has also been recognized as Folio Weekly’s Best Local Radio Personality. As executive producer of The 904: Shadow on the Sunshine State, Melissa and WJCT received an Emmy in the “Documentary” category at the 2011 Suncoast Emmy Awards. The 904 examined Jacksonville’s status as Florida’s murder capital. During her years in broadcast television, Melissa picked up three additional Emmys for news and feature reporting. Melissa came to WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. Married with two children, Melissa is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism/Communications. She can be reached at

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