"I've been looking for a 'Bernie-ite' for 30 years," said a grinning Charles Tubbs, who packs an IBEW card. "Now I've found one."
Tubbs, who belongs to Paducah-based IBEW Local 816, was in a crowd of about 40 people from western Kentucky and western Tennessee who gathered in Murray Wednesday night for a "Bernie Sanders Grassroots Digital Meetup Party."
The faithful came together at Murray State University's Curris Student Center to swap stories about why they support Sanders for president and to hear their candidate speak on a big screen TV via live streaming from Washington. Some of the Sanders fans brought their kids.
Sanders is Vermont's junior senator. Though he was elected as an independent and calls himself a democratic socialist, he is running for president as a Democrat.
The Murray meetup was one of an estimated 3,500 simultaneous nationwide gatherings that attracted at least 100,000 people. Organizational meetings followed Sanders' address.
"Tell us who you are and what brought you to Bernie," said organizer Janice Thomasson of Murray as she passed a cordless microphone through the crowd, which included a quartet of other Local 816 members, some of whom sported bright blue union tee shirts.
"I'm 33-years-old and Bernie Sanders is the first candidate I can really believe in," said Josh Dunn.
His sentiments were echoed by several others, including Local 816's Chad Rennison who is a social media fan.
"I went on social media and did a background check on Bernie," Rennison said. "I looked at his track record and found out that he has always supported the middle class and working people. He wants to rebuild the country's infrastructure, which will provide jobs."
Since Sanders took office in 2007, he has voted the union position on issues 100 percent of the time, according to the AFL-CIO Senate Scorecard.
Jason Wellington, who is also in Local 816, said "every point Bernie Sanders has is spot on in what I want to see in a politician."
"He's for the working class and won't be bought off by the 'one percent,' said Dusty Owens of Local 816.
The IBEW members and others in the crowd chowed down on "Commander-in-Chief Cookies" and swigged "Frack Free Water" provided by Thomasson. A mother-daugther combo sang "Bernie Sanders, Bring Us a Dream" they wrote to the tune of "Mr. Sandman."
The festivities included a drawing for Sanders-for-president bumper stickers and campaign buttons, all emblazoned with union labels.
More information about the Sanders for president campaign is available from Thomasson. Her email address is Janice.firstname.lastname@example.org and her cell phone-text message number is 270-227-8438.
Click here to view the official Sanders for president website.