Students take a break from campaigning

The student group Stand Up Now worked with the Klobuchar campaign.

Lee VandenBusch

The end of the official campaign season marks a new beginning for some University students.

Each election season, political campaigns provide students a chance for direct involvement in the political process.

University political science senior Gordon West worked on Independence candidate Peter Hutchinson’s campaign for governor. West met Hutchinson this summer and wanted to be involved.

“What he said really made the most sense to me,” West said. “The Independence Party seemed like the only party that really had the issues laid out right.”

West is one of many students who worked for a political campaign during the election season.

Political science senior Travis Reiners worked for the DFL, focusing most of his time on Mike Hatch’s gubernatorial bid.

Reiners, who had not previously been involved with politics, said he liked Hatch.

“It was something I decided to do,” Reiners said. “It agreed with my values.”

Reiners spent the campaign as regional field coordinator for the 2nd and 8th Congressional Districts, getting information about the DFL candidates out, scheduling events and handing out literature.

“Basically, it was expanding the campaign’s message where the candidate can’t be seen or heard,” Reiners said. “Anything to get the message out.”

On the Hutchinson campaign, West was in charge of organizing events on campus to get students involved and interested.

“We mainly just did a lot of visibility on campus,” West said.

He also put together an Independence Party group on campus – similar to the University DFL and the College Republicans – called University Independents. It’s the first of its kind on campus.

Other candidates used students during the election season, including DFL Senator-elect Amy Klobuchar.

Her campaign got students involved through its youth action initiative, which helped organize volunteers for races around the state.

Alex Cutler is the executive director of the student organization Stand Up Now, the DFL’s youth-coordinated campaign.

The group, which Cutler started after taking time off from St. Olaf College, worked with the Klobuchar campaign and the DFL during the election, tapping students from all over the state.

“My job,” Cutler said, “was to bring together all the youth organizations to run a coordinated campaign effort.”

For students interested in politics, campaigns can even lead to future jobs, Cutler said

“There’s such a cry for help for staff support every election cycle,” he said. “People will have no problems if they have experience doing exactly what they want to do.”

Both West and Reiners said they were interested in continuing in politics.

“I kind of see (working on a campaign) as on-the-job training,” Reiners said. “Maybe one day be a legislator or a senator of my own.”

West also said he plans to continue his work with the University Independents Club on campus.

In the meantime, both students said that it was time to get back to school.

“Back to school, back to work,” West said. “Time to slow down and finish out the semester, I think.”

Reiners said he was of a similar mindset.

“Right now, I’m trying to put my grades back together,” he said. “I’m going to focus on school.”