Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Monday, February 19, 2018

College Democrats and Republicans gear up for election day

Club representatives share how they’re getting candidates elected

College Democrats and Republicans gear up for election day

With Election Day coming in a matter of weeks, the AU College Democrats and AU College Republicans are each gearing up to help their candidate win the White House.

Both organizations are phone-banking and canvassing regularly for their respective candidates. While the AU Dems are rallying behind Hillary Clinton, the AUCRs are advocating for down-ballot candidates and holding an event with third-party presidential candidate Evan McMullin on Oct. 20.

“This election allows us to impact our own future,” said AU College Democrats Campaigns Director Nicole Gray. “This president is going to shape the rest of our adult lives. By getting involved, you have a substantial role in creating your own future. Now is the opportunity for you to get involved.”

Valentina Fernandez, the vice president of AU Democrats, is helping lead the club’s efforts to elect Hillary Clinton. The club holds a phone bank for Clinton each Tuesday and also canvases regularly as a club— most recently in Pennsylvania and Maryland. 

“It’s definitely a tight race,” Fernandez said. “I do feel that Hillary Clinton is the most qualified. We obviously support her and are rooting for her. At the same time, we have to emphasize it’s a close race.”

The AU College Republicans are in a different situation with their respective candidate. This year, the club refused to officially endorse Republican nominee Donald Trump. According to Communications Director Brian Thomas, “eighty percent of our organization, give or take, didn’t want to endorse and support Donald Trump.”

“I am ready for this election to be over, at least on the presidential level,” AUCR President Tom Hebert said. “As a club, we are excited to support Republican candidates down-ballot that exemplify conservative values.”

Thomas said he is personally supporting McMullin, a lesser known candidate and a former advisor on the House Committee for Foreign Affairs. AUCR is dedicated to keeping a Republican Congressional majority, so the club is knocking on doors and making phone calls to voters, according to Hebert and Thomas. 

Additionally, AUCR is sending delegations to the Philadelphia area and doing extensive phone banking, according to Thomas. Recently, the group lled a campaign trip to Pennsylvania to support Brian Fitzpatrick, a former FBI agent now running for the House. They are also dedicated to helping re-elect Representative Barbara Comstock from Virginia. All this information and future events can be found on the club’s Facebook page.

“This election is unique, just because the candidates are so unlikable,” Thomas said. “We’ve never had a candidate in the Republican party like Trump. We are not standing behind any candidate. It’s a shame that we can’t support the nominee, but we as a club do not find Trump to be conservative.”

Even if students don’t want to support either candidate, Gray argues against protest votes, which can be defined as votes cast in retaliation to the political system or candidates. 

“A lot of college students or Millennials were Bernie Sanders supporters,” Gray said. “I’m worried about those who are voting for other candidates, like Gary Johnson, due to a protest vote. It’s important to realize that protest votes don’t help. A protest vote, while yes, you’re not voting for Hillary Clinton, you are supporting Trump. If you’re not supporting Trump, support Hillary.”

Both organizations urged students to exercise their civic duty, whether it’s for the presidency or for Congressional district races. The clubs have partnered with the Kennedy Political Union’s Turbo Vote campaign to get as many students registered to vote as possible.

“Go out and vote for a candidate that makes you proud to show up at the polling place,” Hebert said.  “I’m taking this election day by day. I haven’t even begun to think about what happens after Nov. 8.” 

ekhan@theeagleonline.com

Correction appended: This story originally stated that the AU College Democrats phone bank for Hillary Clinton on Wednesdays. It has been changed to say that they do this on Tuesdays.


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