Students begin organizing for 2008 presidential elections

From monitoring to registering, groups on campus are bracing for next fall.

by Alex Amend

Though the presidential election is more than a year and a half away, and primaries aren’t until next spring, many students have already begun organizing and rallying.

Groups supporting and opposing candidates have sprung up online, while other student groups are preparing for a busy campaign season.

“The momentum is from a hunger for change,” said Sean Olson, a political science and global studies junior and deputy state director for UMN Students for Barack Obama.

“There is a lot of buzz for Obama, and we have already seen a steady commitment from students.”

Ted York, the group’s president, also said the group is not strictly limited to pledging allegiance to Obama and wants to encourage as many students to get involved early in this election.

“We want to get people out to vote who typically don’t,” said York, a first-year political science and global studies student. “At this moment, we’re not against anyone, we just want to promote Obama’s message.”

With candidates far from endorsement, party-affiliated groups are concentrating on other aspects of the election.

Clare Nelson, a political science and history junior and the incoming University DFL president, said last week’s Democratic debates were enticing, but not convincing.

Nelson said many members are organizing smaller candidate-specific groups, but the U-DFL is preparing for caucuses and fundraising.

“Right now we are focusing on caucus training to enable us to get delegates to the convention,” she said.

The College Republicans have yet to begin discussing the elections, said Lindsey Clayton, a representative at large.

Nonpartisan groups such as the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group and Democracy Matters are also bracing for the elections in some small ways.

Jim Forrey, a political science junior and member of Democracy Matters, said the group will soon begin monitoring fundraising and will bring each candidate’s practices to light.

Ani Loizzo, a political science senior and chair of MPIRG’s board of directors, said the group helped register more than 7,000 voters in the 2004 elections and will be looking to top that in 2008.