LITTLE ROCK – When Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton returns on Saturday to the state where she was first a first lady, she'll be greeted with a full house, Democratic Party officials hope, despite a $50,000 donation that bought 2,000 of the tickets to a party fundraiser.
The tickets purchased in a block aren't going to the donor, but they won't sit empty, either. They are instead being given away in equal amounts by the party and Clinton's presidential campaign.
Organizers had already expected at least 2,000 people at the annual Jefferson-Jackson party fundraiser Saturday night, and if all the tickets bought with the single large purchase are given away, attendance could double.
"We are calling supporters and people that have been active at some level in the Democratic party, whether that's someone who's a volunteer or someone who has voted in Democratic primaries," said Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee. "We're reaching out to give those people who may not have had the opportunity to attend a paid fundraiser to come out and hear the message at this fundraiser."
Darinda Sharp, a spokeswoman for the party, would not say who bought the block of 2,000 tickets for Saturday night's event but said the party was hopeful that all would be distributed. Sharp said the party has also been calling past supporters and volunteers offering the tickets. Sharp would not say how much the party will raise from the event.
But it's likely they will pull in more than $200,000, based on the amount of tickets already sold and the $50,000 donation.
Bruce Sinclair, the party's state director, said the event had earlier sold out its 150 tables, which were selling for $1,000 each, and the party had been offering $25 seats that don't include floor access or dinner.
Sharp said having the event at a venue like Alltel made it possible for the party to offer even more people a chance to see Clinton.
"We've never been able to offer a low-dollar ticket to Jefferson-Jackson. Usually it's a bunch of people at a formal dinner," Sharp said.