Student political organizations focus support on local candidates

Springfield Democrat Betsy Dirksen Londrigan speaks to the crowd about why she decided to enter the political game at a showing of “Knock Down the House,” a film about women in politics, held on SIUE’s campus in February. Dirksen Londrigan is currently running against U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis to represent Illinois’ 13th Congressional District. The College Democrats of SIUE have endorsed Dirksen Londrigan and been volunteering for her campaign. 

 

The endorsement of a candidate by a political group might seem like a simple, easy choice, but there’s actually a lot involved in the process of an endorsement.  

The College Democrats of SIUE is one of many student political groups on campus. For this election, they’re supporting former Vice President Joe Biden, but they haven’t officially endorsed him. President of the organization, senior Applied Communications major James Beverly, of Los Angeles, said the club will endorse the Democratic candidate for local elections, but didn’t feel it was necessary for the presidential election. 

“For whoever the nominee for Democrat is, we usually automatically endorse them. I know we came out with most of our local candidate endorsements in May. We haven’t endorsed a president yet. Even though it’s Biden, we’ve just been sharing stuff. We just haven’t endorsed him because we didn’t think it was necessary to do a separate one at this point,” Beverly said. 

The College Democrats of SIUE are currently campaigning for Betsy Dirksen Londrigan to represent Illinois’ 13th Congressional District. Beverly said they focus more on local politics because of how it affects SIUE students.

“They plan on being a student here for a while and living in this area. These people are going to represent them for the next two to four years. So, it is important,” Beverly said. 

Beverly said when deciding which candidate to endorse for a local election, the club votes.

“It’s just majority rules,” Beverly said.

Another group, The College Republicans of SIUE , also focuses mostly on local candidates. Vice President of the College Republicans, junior business major Stephen Stewart from Edwardsville, said their endorsements are done by vote.

“We go into an endorsement session — this year we had to have it virtually — but all of the members then will raise the objections that they may have with any people and then we ultimately vote on these endorsements,” Stewart said.

Unlike the College Democrats, The Southern Illinois People for Progress, a group of southern Illinois residents who aim to solve issues progressively, endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders, before endorsing Biden. On the process of picking a candidate to endorse, organizer of People for Progress Dr. Pamella Gronemeyer said they just choose aligns with their ideals.

“It was basically on Bernie’s policies, you know, the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, a $15 an hour wage, free college … You couldn’t be endorsed in the primary by those groups unless you were aligned with the Bernie platform.”

Gronemeyer said after supporting Biden’s campaign, they will advocate for him to take progressive stances on issues if he is elected. 

“The goal is that we’re working for Biden, and the idea is that after the election we’re going to get him to move more progressively. That’s just like Bernie says — the day after the election, that’s when we start pushing again,” Gronemeyer said. 

Gronemeyer said The Southern Illinois People for Progress, unlike the College Democrats, focuses on federal candidates. 

“We focus on the federal [candidates] … we really do focus on issues. I support the local candidates, but I really care about the federal issues,” Gronemeyer said. 

Students can check out the College Democrats of SIUE and College Republicans of SIUE at their Facebook pages.

 

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