Democrat group aims to ‘put fun back in politics’

Chris Vetter

To some people, politics is about more than serious issues and partisan debates. It is also about getting people involved and having fun while working together on political events.
Minnesotans for a Democratic Majority is a new organization dedicated to involving young professionals and college students in the political process across the state. University students and local politicians gathered Thursday night at Grandma’s Saloon on the West Bank to celebrate the group’s first anniversary.
Group members handed out newsletters and pamphlets Saturday in four legislative districts. Members will also distribute yard signs and knock on doors to deliver literature, register voters and promote Democratic candidates for the Legislature.
Every other week, group members will campaign in one district they think might elect a Republican legislator.
“We are a Democratic strike force,” said Steven Johnson, the organization’s co-founder.
Jeff Bauer, a member of the organization, said the group is for young people who don’t have established ties to political parties.
“If college students want to get involved in politics, this is a great place to go,” said Bauer, president of the College Democrats, a state board for Minnesota campus groups affiliated with the Democratic party.
Rick Roth-Sterger, a third-year University law student, said the group is a good organization for college students.
“It is focused around young people,” Roth-Sterger said. “It is geared towards our concerns. It allows us some creativity.”
Johnson said too many young people are apathetic about politics, and the organization is trying to change that. He said negative ads and campaigns have turned people away from politics.
After witnessing the 1994 elections, the group’s founders decided “there wasn’t enough fun in politics,” Johnson said. “We try and stress fun as well as political activism.”
The organization stresses social gatherings for people to meet Democrats and discuss politics in an informal setting. It is geared toward people who are not familiar with the political process, Johnson said.
Buck Humphrey, a group member and son of Minnesota Attorney General Skip Humphrey, said about 375 people attended the anniversary party at Grandma’s Saloon. DFL chairman Mark Andrew and several state senators also attended the party.
Johnson said the party kicked off the organization’s plans to help Minnesota Democrats retain control of both the state Senate and House of Representatives. He said President Clinton and Sen. Paul Wellstone will have plenty of workers for their races, but state legislative districts may need volunteer help to hold the current Democratic majority in both houses.
Johnson said he and a few other people began to organize a group last year before Hillary Clinton’s visit to the Minneapolis Convention Center. At that meeting, Clinton said it was time to put the fun back in politics, and the group’s founders took it as the slogan for their new organization.