Dennis Berwyn is heading to the Republican convention with help from 33 donations – some from people he doesn’t even know.
Berwyn is a 56-year-old research analyst for the state legislature who lives in Raleigh. After two decades in politics, he’s making his first trip to a national convention. But with sky-high hotel prices because of the demand, participating can cost thousands of dollars.
So Berwyn turned to the crowdfunding website GoFundMe for help. In return, he’s promised to give friends, family and other supporters an insider’s view of the convention using social media.
“I want to make it accessible for other people who can’t go,” he said, adding that his “unique perspective” will likely differ from what people see on TV.
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As of Friday, Berwyn had raised $1,300, and he says a couple of the donors are Democrats he sometimes debates on Facebook. One donor listed a name of “Hillary Clinton” and left a message: “Have a couple of beers on me.”
Berwyn is serving as an alternate delegate who will vote for Donald Trump if he’s called on to fill in. But he wasn’t always a Trump supporter – he backed Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at the beginning of the primary process, then Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, then Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
“I wouldn’t say that Trump has the kinds of policies that I envision in a presidential nominee,” Berwyn said. But “I’m a party loyalist ... I want to go with who gets the most votes.”
He says he’s curious to see how whether Republicans come together behind Trump in Cleveland. “I’m excited to see what the interaction is like, if there can be party unity,” he said. “To be a part of a nominating process – even though it’s a circus and a scripted thing – is exciting to me.”