Phyllis Kahn storms the dorms for DFL

State Representative Phyllis Kahn organizes campaign material with freshman Jessica Herman, left and sophtmore Reilee Arkulary from Students for Obama at Coffman Union Monday night. A group of around 8 members went to Middlebrook Hall and Yudof Hall handing out information to every room in the two dormitories.

Jules Ameel

State Representative Phyllis Kahn organizes campaign material with freshman Jessica Herman, left and sophtmore Reilee Arkulary from Students for Obama at Coffman Union Monday night. A group of around 8 members went to Middlebrook Hall and Yudof Hall handing out information to every room in the two dormitories.

With a three-hour permit and Students for Barack Obama volunteers in tow, state Rep. Phyllis Kahn took to University of Minnesota residence halls Tuesday night. The four met at Coffman Union, and Kahn, whose district covers the Minneapolis campus, had a suitcase full of campaign mailers rolling behind her. Her mission was clear: Secure as many college-age votes for the DFL ticket as she could. As indicated by the suitcase full of campaign mailers rolling behind her, sheâÄôd done this before. Since her first run for office in 1972, Kahn has campaigned on campus. Over the years, sheâÄôs seen the general political persuasion of students shift and evolve, most recently sharply to the left âÄî in line with KahnâÄôs own views. âÄúIn this district, we donâÄôt ever want anyone to run to the left of us,âÄù she said. About 10 times during this landmark election season alone, Kahn said, sheâÄôs visited student housing complexes and noticed decidedly Democratic support. Aggressive grassroots campaign efforts, including repeated on-campus door-knocking trips, during U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison âÄôs 2006 bid marked the beginning of the latest leftward shift, Kahn said. As the volunteers doled out pro-Democrat brochures and pamphlets Tuesday evening and charted their route from Middlebrook Hall to Yudof and Comstock halls, they reminded each other that Election Day was looming. âÄúOn Nov. 5, I get to sleep,âÄù said University sophomore Reilee Doane-Arkulary, a Students for Barack Obama officer whoâÄôs organized KahnâÄôs residence hall campaign trips this fall. But until then, Doane-Arkalary and Kahn agreed, itâÄôs important to mobilize and expose as many students as possible to DFL literature and information to educate them on the partyâÄôs candidates and stances on key issues. On their Tuesday night run, Kahn and the volunteers reached an estimated 1,500 people, Doane-Arkalary said. âÄúWe think the pieces of [campaign literature] weâÄôre handing out are really good in terms of bringing the names in front of people again,âÄù Kahn said. âÄúEvery time you do that, youâÄôre supposed to run a campaign as if youâÄôre always 1 percent behind.âÄù Even signs proudly taped to studentsâÄô doors plastered with her opponentâÄôs picture didnâÄôt stop Kahn. If a door didnâÄôt have a âÄúno-political-knockingâÄù sign, she was ready to go. When she goes door-to-door in the neighborhoods, sheâÄôll knock as long as there are fewer than three Republican candidatesâÄô signs in the yard. Overall, at least Tuesday evening, students who answered their doors received Kahn well. Only one told her he had committed to her Republican opponent, Ole Hovde. One challenged her on the politics behind The Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment , for which she was advocating. One, when she realized who Kahn was, retrieved a recently received letter from her grandfather that mentioned the legislator. ItâÄôs clear that Kahn, after nearly 40 years in state government, is known better off campus âÄî âÄúbecause IâÄôve been around,âÄù she said. But still, during each campaign cycle she visits the residence halls and greets student-constituents. âÄúMy name is Phyllis Kahn and IâÄôm your state legislator,âÄù she says. And more important to her than promoting her brand of politics is ensuring that students vote âÄî period. âÄúI always tell people, âÄòYouâÄôre being educated at a public expense,âÄù she said. âÄúYou really do have a responsibility to vote âĦ even if itâÄôs not for me.âÄô âÄù And even after 19 campaign cycles, itâÄôs still important to Kahn to hit campus. Especially with a week to go before Election Day, reaching as many voters as possible is important. At about 9:15 p.m. Tuesday, the team wrapped up its work at Middlebrook. Doane-Arkalary questioned whether the remaining time, until the permit expired at 10 p.m., was enough to tackle another residence hall. There wasnâÄôt time to head to both Yudof and Comstock halls as planned, but Kahn was committed to visiting one of them. âÄúWe have so little time leftâÄù before the election, she said. âÄúWhen we still have almost an hour to go, the thought of not doing it is too much.âÄù