Young Republican women meet, learn about party

Female legislators and community members talked to the group.

Stephanie Kudrle

High school and college-age Republican women met to discuss policy, the election and campaigning at a retreat at the University of St. Thomas on Saturday.

Female legislators, community members and Republican campaigners talked to the group – which included a handful of University students – about how women can play a role in politics.

The event gave young Republican women a chance to learn more about the party and get involved, said organizer Tara Anderson, executive director of the College Republicans at the University.

About 30 attendees spent the day listening to guest speakers talk about issues such as fiscal policy, family values and education.

University junior Missy Graner said she enjoyed attending the forums, particularly a discussion about abortion.

Graner, a member of the College Republicans at the University, said the events connect Republican women to government issues.

“It’s good to get women interested in government,” she said. “We don’t want it to be male-dominated.”

To conclude the retreat, the group volunteered for the Bush-Cheney campaign in St. Paul. It made phone calls and went out into a neighborhood to campaign.

Volunteering at the campaign headquarters in Minnesota was “great,” Graner said. She said it is important for women to get involved in the election.

Molly Murphy, regional field director for the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign, spoke to the group during the retreat about how to get involved with the presidential campaign.

“This is going to be a historic election,” Murphy said.

President George W. Bush has a good chance to win Minnesota this year and Republicans need to help make that happen, she said.

“Volunteers will make the difference,” she said. “The president will not win Minnesota unless everybody gives it all they can.”

However, University Democrats disagreed with such predictions.

“I don’t think saying Bush will win Minnesota is a valid claim,” said Austin Miller, president of the DFL at the University. “People will recognize the bad things that happened when Bush got into office.”

He said Minnesotans will not vote for Bush because the state is traditionally liberal.

Miller’s organization will actively campaign for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., on campus this fall, he said.

Retreat speaker Cheri Pierson Yecke criticized Democrats in the State Senate in addition to praising Republicans.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty nominated Yecke to be the education commissioner in Minnesota last year, but she was removed from her job when the Senate rejected her nomination in April.

Yecke said she was the target of partisan politics, and said Democrats broke a promise to confirm her.

“You can’t trust Democrats when they give their word,” she said. “They should be embarrassed.”

She said Democrats feared change and tried to embarrass Pawlenty by not confirming her.

But Sen. Steve Kelley, DFL-Hopkins, said Senate Democrats did not make a deal to confirm Yecke.

He also said she was not the target of partisan politics or a plot to embarrass the governor.

“She’s the only one that thinks she’s embarrassing to the governor,” he said. “We didn’t believe she was good for education.”