With the election just two months away, University Democrats and College Republicans are gearing up for recruitment and “get out the vote” campaigns.
Both organizations had their first general meetings Wednesday night, with the presidential election as a major talking point at both meetings.
For UDems, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is serving as a rallying point and a common enemy.
“It’s very easy to unite against someone with such a strong personality like Donald Trump,” UDems president Ashley Alcantara said. “We’re in a little of an easier position than College Republicans.”
College Republicans took on the topic of their controversial nominee head on, ending their first general meeting with a discussion about Trump and where members stood on the presidential election.
“Many of the people that have approached us have been really interested to find out where the club stands on Donald Trump,” said Robert Guerra, vice president of College Republicans, before the meeting.
Guerra, a finance junior, said he hoped the forum would help the organization form their consensus on the nominee, but the members that took part in the discussion seemed divided on whether they were going to support Trump.
A wide range of members were at the meeting — those who completely backed Trump and had from the beginning, those who said they were supporting the nominee for the good of the party, and those who said they couldn’t vote for him at all.
“If I was to boil it down, there was a lot of reluctant support for Trump in the room,” Guerra said after the meeting. “He was a lot of people’s last choice. We don’t have an official consensus or stance from the organization, but that’s just my take.”
College Republicans will be sending out a survey to members to figure out the organization’s consensus about the nominee, Guerra said.
Guerra said regardless of the organization’s feeling about the nominee, it wouldn’t change the political leanings of Republicans on campus nor would it stop people from joining.
“People aren’t gonna change their values or what they believe in based on one candidate,” Guerra said. “People who consider themselves as a Republican or conservative aren’t going to stop because of one person.”
As for the UDems, their election talk centered around a guest — U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas). After making a few quips about the GOP nominee, Doggett turned the conversation towards how he sees students helping in down-ballot elections.
Doggett encouraged the organization’s members to be politically active, which meant working and voting in close Texas races.
“Send us some reinforcements for critical races,” Doggett said at the meeting.
Similarly, College Republicans emphasized their connection to Gov. Greg Abbott’s office and the Republican Party of Texas during the meeting.
“We pass along a lot of information about block walking, local campaigns and internships through the state capitol,” Guerra said. “College Republicans is a great way to help local candidates.”
Even though Travis County and the campus are politically liberal, Guerra said having the organization on campus for students to be politically active is still important.
“It’s important for all views and political philosophies to be on college campuses,” Guerra said. “That’s what college is about: Knowing you can express your beliefs, find like-minded people and understand what our world is by looking at all perspectives.”