Student groups ready for the polls
The campaigns for Wisconsin Assembly District 4, featuring Republican Chad Weininger ’95 and Democrat Sam Dunlop ’05, are two of many with which St. Norbert’s College Democrats and College Republicans have been involved ahead of today's midterm elections.
While College Republicans president Jason Mugnaini ’11 and College Democrats president Jim Brehm ’11 don’t agree on the issues in that race between St. Norbert alums, both can agree that having politically engaged students on campus is a good thing.
“Whether Republicans or Democrats win, the positive thing to take away from it for both parties is that there is an active political base on campus and there are students engaged, which is something I like to see,” Brehm says.
According to Brehm, the College Democrats had been defunct for a while. The student organization was re-established in spring 2009 and has since grown to some 15 members actively canvassing and working phone banks.
Mugnaini has seen his group’s membership swell from five or six in spring 2009 to around 30 this semester.
“We actually had about 80 people who signed up and that agreed with the message of College Republicans,” Mugnaini says. “It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”
The College Republicans have undertaken nearly 1,000 hours of service on a number of campaigns since August.
Much of the campaigning by both groups takes place off campus, either at party headquarters or door-to-door in neighborhoods. The groups have also made an effort to bring the campaigns to campus. There have been campaign appearances by Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold and Republican lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Rebecca Kleefisch as well as a debate between U.S. House candidates Reid Ribble, a Republican, and Democratic incumbent Steve Kagen.
Both the College Democrats and College Republicans have been distributing literature on campus and will help get out the vote on election day.
The schedule included campaign-related activities “almost every single day,” Mugnaini says.
Brehm says his group collaborated with the College Republicans during campaign season to facilitate educational events like issue talks.
It’s all had an impact not only on campus but also in the classroom, says Mugnaini.
“I can say that this year, more so than in 2008, more political discussions have started in class than any other year. College Republicans and College Democrats have gotten on the ball and tried to bring out that message and remind students that there is an election in 2010, coming up really soon, and people need to pay attention to it.”