Thu. Oct 22nd, 2020

The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Students found candidate-focused organizations in anticipation of upcoming democratic primary elections

3 min read
Sam Hartz and Patrick Healy stand behind a table with a sign that says Mary Washington's Young Democrats.

Sam Hartz, Young Democrats President, and Patrick Healy, Young Democrats Outreach Chair, have both founded groups supporting their preferred candidate. (Young Democrats Facebook)

by JOSEPHINE JOHNSON

Staff Writer

UMW has seen an increase in politically-oriented groups on campus over the past few weeks, including Students for Pete Buttigieg, UMW for Bernie and Students for Warren. These groups have been founded to campaign and educate student voters on the 2020 presidential candidates. Each group will be hosting events leading up to the 2020 democratic primary election on March 3. The Republican Party is not hosting a primary in Virginia this year.

Established on-campus political organizations, such as the UMW Young Democrats, avoid endorsing any particular candidate during the election season.

“We have members individually involved in campaigns,” said UMW Young Democrats president Sam Hartz, junior American studies major. “We just can’t endorse [a candidate] as a club.”

Staying impartial keeps the peace between the members of the club who might have differing opinions regarding candidates. Members with special interest in a candidate are then encouraged to create their own groups.

Hartz is the leader of a university-wide Students for Pete Buttigieg organization, which exists separately from his leadership within the Young Democrats. UMW for Pete is a grassroots organization driven group which hosts club events, such as debate watch parties.

Travis Redmond, a senior political science major, believes that the 2020 election is arguably the most important in history. “[Bernie Sanders’ campaign] is expecting historic youth voter turnout,” said Redmond.

Redmond is the founder of UMW for Bernie, a group focused on presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Redmond was contacted by Sanders’ campaign via email and asked to represent the candidate as a campus coordinator. UMW for Bernie will be tabling, canvassing and phone banking until Election Day.

Student groups plan on tabling and hosting events throughout the campus over the next few months. (Kate Seltzer | The Blue & Gray Press)

“I think we’re at a really important crossroads right now,” said Redmond. “We need a movement that will inspire.”

Students for Warren, represented by Patrick Healy, a sophomore political science major who is also involved with the Young Democrats, is another group created to allow students to campaign for their preferred candidate.

Like UMW for Bernie, Students for Warren will be tabling and canvassing leading up to the primaires. Healy is optimistic regarding Warren’s odds in both the primaries and the general election. “I think she’s the best person to beat Trump,” said Healy.

With a multitude of groups to choose from, students concerned with the upcoming election have a place they can go to meet with like-minded individuals.

John Vizzard, freshman, says his main interest is the safety of people. “Climate change is hurting the earth, healthcare is expensive and gun control [is important] for obvious reasons,” said Vizzard.

Olivia Breda, freshman, says what is most important to her is, “for one thing, putting someone else as president.” Breda’s concerns also include immigration and conflict with Iran.

The greatly anticipated Virginia democratic primaries on March 3 are during spring break. Having a primary over spring break means that those who are registered to vote on campus or in Fredericksburg will need to request an absentee ballot if they plan on leaving the area for break. Absentee voting began Jan. 25, with the deadline to request an absentee ballot being Feb. 25.

Although many political clubs on campus do not endorse candidates, this does not stop them from doing what they can to inform voters on who is running in the election. Debate watch parties and weekly meetings are common ways of spreading information. According to Hartz, Young Democrats is currently working on trying to get candidates to visit campus.

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