Getting into one of the Democratic debates is like getting a ticket to the Super Bowl or the World Series.
Ordinary Americans don’t just walk up to the window and buy a seat for $28.50. Often, they got one free from someone important — like one of the candidates (who are each allotted an equal number of seats), a Democratic Party official or someone who works for the news network hosting the debate.
And then there are the seats available for sale. The state and local parties that help organize the debates offer the option for people interested in attending to “sponsor” the debate. This was the case tonight in Charleston, S.C., as it has been in other debates over the last seven months.
The Charleston County Democratic Party offered sponsorship options ranging from $1,750 to $3,200, which included admission to the debate as well as access to other gatherings surrounding the event, according to a local news station, WCSC. “This is something that the average person doesn’t usually get to go to,” the station quoted the county party chair as saying.
For the first Democratic debate in Miami in June, the Florida Democratic Party offered sponsorships for thousands of dollars, according to The Miami Herald.
“For $4,500, a sponsor gets two tickets to a pre-debate reception on June 26 and two tickets to both debate nights,” the paper reported, as well as a $1,750 ticket that covered admission to one reception and the debate for one person.
After social media buzzed with unfounded speculation that the booing of Senator Bernie Sanders was related to the high cost of some tickets — presumably purchased by wealthy donors or wealthy candidates — the Democratic National Committee pushed back.
“Let me give you the facts: The tickets were divided up between the DNC, campaigns (with equal allocation), SC Dem Party, CBCI, CBS and Twitter. We invited local and community leaders, and DNC supporters. This is the most diverse audience,” the party’s communications director, Xochitl Hinojosa, said on Twitter.