College Democrats, Republicans bring elections to campus

Students make their voices heard around campus in last week’s elections

John Tompkins

College Democrats and College Republicans alike breathed a sigh of relief last week as the elections came to a close.ElectionCommentary3

“The last few months have been a little crazy for College Republicans here at Washington and Lee,” said College Republicans Chair Jamaal Jones, ‘16.        

Though they often lack the attention presidential elections receive, the midterm elections are crucial in determining which party controls Congress. With the prospect of a Republican takeover in the Senate, both College Democrats and Republicans at Washington and Lee spent the last few months advocating for a party win in last Tuesday’s election.

Members of the College Republicans on campus participated in a number of political events in preparation for last week’s election, from campaigning in the local community to scheduling politicians to speak here in Lexington.

“We assisted in door-knocking here in the county and some of our members even traveled to neighboring cities to assist in the election,” Jones said. “We helped get [Congressman] Bob Goodlatte to come to our local party headquarters where he spoke about his election campaign, and the need for Republicans to take back the government.”

Much of the activities the College Republicans participated in this election season was organized and led by younger members of the club. Their age, however, was in no way a reflection of their experience. Some had even worked on professional political campaigns before.

“This summer I interned for my now Congressman-elect Dave Brat, who became nationally known for knocking off then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a surprise victory in the June primary for Virginia’s 7th Congressional District…In my opinion, there are few candidates as down to earth, intelligent, and hardworking as Dave Brat. I’m excited to finally call him my Congressman,” said freshman and Mock Convention Southern Regional Chair Caroline Bones.ElectionCommentary

The College Democrats were also active this semester in supporting their candidates for office.

College Democrats Chair Jacqueline Carson, ‘16, said, “We helped sponsor a voter registration drive with CSA and Delta Sigma Theta.  As for me, I was really happy to see Mark Warner win by a slight majority. I’m so proud to have him and Tim Kaine, both incredible politicians and former governors, represent Virginia in the Senate.”

Following months of campaign events, those most interested in politics settled in on Nov. 4, to watch the returns.

Others on campus played a more active role in the process. Many involved in the university’s journalism department monitored election results as they came in for The Rockbridge Report.

“I found the experience of working in a functioning newsroom on action night riveting,” said sophomore John Crum, who contributed to The Rockbridge Reports’s various broadcasts that night. “The energy in the room was incredible and the closeness of many races, particularly our own in Virginia, made for a fast paced and engaging night. It was a privilege to contribute, even in a small way.”

The Republican party captured the Senate from the Democrats and strengthened their majority in the House of Representatives to 246 seats, which is their largest win since 1946.

Both parties, here on campus and nationwide, are sure to soon shift their focus to a prize much bigger than a few congressional and gubernatorial seats: the 2016 presidential election.