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Political support groups flourish due to presidential election year

While the 2008 presidential election will be a close race according to virtually every poll, a historic outcome is guaranteed. Should the Democrats win; the United States will see the first African American president. If the Republicans win, there will be a first female vice president.

The excitement surrounding the historical 2008 election is evident on Concordia’s campus through their student-run partisan groups, how they are responding to the presidential race and what they have planned before Election Day.

Campus Republicans is the partisan group on campus representing the GOP with 70 members. They stand for limited government, fiscal responsibility of taxpayer money, a strong national defense, traditional American values and the Constitution, according to president of Campus Republicans Alex McIntyre.

“I am very excited and confident about this election season,” said McIntyre. “I believe we can win the presidency behind John McCain and Sarah Palin and take back seats in the Democrat controlled Congress.”

Campus Republicans support Republican candidates “at all levels of government.” They have many activities planned for supporting their candidates and making sure students are accurately informed on the issues of this election.

A Concordia campus debate will feature members of Campus Republicans and the other major party group, Campus Democrats, on Monday, September 22 from 8:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. in the Centrum.

The Campus Democrats believe themselves to be young people working for a change. The group hopes to have an impact on the world around them, especially having been taught by Concordia to be responsible, national and global citizens.

“By helping elect Democratic leaders, Campus Democrats will help raise the standard of living in our state, in our country, and most importantly, in the world,” said Jake Johnson, vice president of Campus Democrats.

The Campus Democrats endorse Mark Altenburg for the district 9A state house seat, Collin Peterson for the Congressional District 7 house seat, Al Franken for the Minnesota Senate and Barack Obama for President.

Johnson is hopeful that 2008 will be a big year for the Democratic Party.

“As Jimmy Carvel put it during the Democratic National Convention, ‘It’s a bad time to be a Republican,’” Johnson said.

Campus Democrats have a wide variety of activities planned for this fall, including rallies, going door to door, organizing phone banks and debates. They recently had a very successful Cobber Expo, where over 20 new members signed up to their already large group of 110. One democrat candidate, Mark Altenburg., even showed up during the event.

“One word that describes our feelings for this fall is pumped,” said Campus Democrats President Ross Dybvig.

This 2008 presidential race has given way to a brand new political club on campus called Cobbers for Obama. Cobbers for Obama is a special division within the Campus Democrats specifically dedicated to the election of Senator Obama to the United States presidency.

“Senator Obama’s unique appeal to voters across party and ideological lines led us to believe that a group specifically geared towards [him] would greatly augment the Campus Democrats’ efforts this fall,” said Nick Hannula, president of the new organization.

Hannula is also looking forward to this year’s election.

“I’m excited, plain and simple. Senator Obama has been a catalyst in bringing young people into the political process like never before and this election is without a doubt the most exciting one I’ve ever seen,” he said.

Cobbers for Obama’s current plans for activities before Election Day include a campus-wide canvas, large-scale voter registration and a “Get-Out-the-Vote” effort coordinated with the Obama Campaign. They will also participate in the September 22 debate.

A fourth new political group on campus, the Concordia Conservatives, has also formed and has 30 active members. This group of students say they are dedicated to a limited government approach to government.

“We fight the inherent liberalism of the university system through campus activism, in hopes of promoting an often-neglected view of the issues,” said Ben Sand, Concordia Conservatives vice president. “We want students to know that it is alright to have conservative leanings on campus, but by no means is this a moderate group of individuals.”

Unlike Campus Republicans, Campus Democrats and Cobbers for Obama, the Concordia Conservatives do not endorse candidates of any kind, at any level. Although the members that make up the group support a wide variety of candidates, they do not endorse people as a group.

“We try to focus on public policy issues,” said Mitch Paumen, president of the group.

As for upcoming events, Paumen said the group would like to spend a day at the trap range in Horace in order to promote individual responsibility in safe gun ownership.

Even though Concordia Conservatives do not endorse candidates, Sand is still energized about the future.

“Hopefully this election year will spark political interest on campus,” he said. “This is exciting for us as a group because it provides a great opening for our activism.”

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