U.Va. politicos transition out of midterm campaign season

Groups seek to focus on advocacy and activism

University Democrats and College Republicans are focusing on activism and lobbying after months of campaign efforts which included knocking on thousands of doors and making thousands of phone calls. Geremia Di Maro | Cavalier Daily

Following the midterm elections, members of the University Democrats and College Republicans are now seeking to shift their focus from the campaigns to focus on activism and lobbying. The pivot comes after months-long campaign efforts, which saw members of both the University Democrats and College Republicans knocking on thousands of doors and making thousands of phone calls in order to encourage voters to take part in the midterms. 

The 2018 midterm elections saw record levels of energy and voter turnout all across the political spectrum. In Charlottesville alone, voter turnout nearly doubled to 61 percent compared to the 2014 midterm election, when only 33 percent of Charlottesville voters cast ballots. Student groups on Grounds are hoping to keep that energy going in their future efforts.

“Our next focus will be geared toward activism and growing the Republican base here on Grounds and in the broader Charlottesville community,” Robert Andrews, a fourth-year College student and chair of the College Republicans, said in an email statement to The Cavalier Daily. “We will also be focused on advocacy during the upcoming General Assembly legislative session.”

The University Democrats are also seeking to continue efforts on Grounds and throughout the state. Joseph Dennie, a third-year College student and communications director for the University Democrats, identified the University Democrats’ recent phonebank for Stacey Abrams to support the recount effort in Georgia and work in hosting the VARatify ERA initiative, which is advocating for the Virginia legislature to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, on Grounds as examples of the group’s new focus on lobbying and advocacy.

“Election Day may be over, but we are still continuing our efforts,” Dennie said in an email. “In the spring, we will go to the General Assembly in Richmond, organize letter writing campaigns, and promote other advocacy and engagement initiatives to ensure our voice is heard by legislators.”

Dennie added that the University Democrats will focus on regaining control of the General Assembly in November 2019. Andrews said the group will focus on helping the GOP maintain control of both of the General Assembly’s houses.

Hoos for Denver Riggleman, an organization affiliated with College Republicans that largely focused on the campaign of now Congressman-elect Denver Riggleman in the Fifth Congressional District, will also be shifting focus to support Riggleman’s transition.

“We're moving into the legislative phase," said Matthew Nalls, a second-year in the College and president of Hoos for Denver Riggleman. “Originally our purpose was to elect him and now our purpose is to support him, and we know a lot of our members are still really excited to do that.”

The group will be working to ensure that the Congressman-elect is able to stay in touch with the Fifth Congressional District.

“We'll probably be doing stuff on Grounds, petitioning, getting certain opinions and stuff like that,” Nalls said.

Student groups are also looking forward to the 2019 fall election which will determine control of both the Virginia State Senate and House of Delegates. Both the University Democrats and College Republicans identified the races as key points in their plan moving forward beyond advocacy and lobbying.

“Right now we know that there is going to be a lot of work that's going to have to be put into the state races we're going to be having soon,” Nalls said. “The great thing about Virginia is that we have an election every single year, but fortunately, a lot of our members are super energized, and they're aware of that.”

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