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UI students campaign in heated statehouse race

BY AUDREY ROEN | OCTOBER 31, 2011 7:20 AM

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Young Republicans at the University of Iowa are getting involved in a Linn County statehouse race that will likely have a big impact on state politics.

"I think we are becoming more aware of how effective knocking on doors is in a grass-roots campaign," said University of Iowa College Republican President John Twillman. "We are trying to get face-to-face contact with future voters."

 

Roughly 11 UI College Republicans traveled to Iowa Senate hopeful Cindy Golding's headquarters in Marion to help support Golding through the campaign on the morning of Oct. 29.

It was the first time UI College Republicans had volunteered to knock on doors for Golding, Twillman said.

The group gathered with other volunteers from across Johnson County to reach out to Republican voters in rural Iowa to support Golding, the Republican candidate vying for the 18th District Senate seat.

The seat is open following the resignation of former Democratic Sen. Swati Dandekar, who accepted a position on the Iowa Utilities Board. Now, Democrats are at risk of losing control of the Senate, which could lead to a change in the status of same-sex marriage in Iowa.

UI senior Natalie Ginty, the head of the Iowa Federation of College Republicans, said College Republicans agreed to volunteer for the campaign because of Golding's election could have a significant effect on the balance of the Iowa Senate.

"The government should be balanced at a 25-25 split," Ginty said, and she would like to see that kind of balance.

District voters will cast their ballots on Nov. 8.

Liz Mathis, the Democratic challenger, is supported by UI College Democrats, who have knocked on doors in past weekends in support of Mathis.

Nate Fiala, the president of the UI College Democrats, said that while the Democrats did not canvass this past weekend, they have canvassed for about every single election in the past.

"Every single election we knock on doors," he said. "It's been proven through research to have supporters and candidates going from door to door, meeting with people in their home and their environment, is very effective."

Ginty said Republicans were reaching out to discuss Golding's campaign with Republican voters — using a new Mobile Voter app. The volunteers handed out absentee ballots to voters who said they found it difficult to come into the city and vote.

"We are literally going out and getting voters, and we are contacting them," Ginty said, while knocking on doors. "This will be a very close election, so every vote is very beneficial."

Don McDowell, a spokesman for Golding's campaign, said canvassing has had an effect on campaign efforts.

Jim Hutter, a retired Iowa State political-science professor, said, however, that sometimes the outreach method can disenchant voters.

"Campaigners tend to run into people frustrated that they wake the baby or are uninterested in politics when they go door-to-door," he said.

Overall, though, it remains an important tool in campaigning.

"But by and large, there are many people who are happy to meet candidates and basically take a view of the person standing there before them," Hutter said.


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