Mason political clubs gear up for the 2018 Midterms

Colter Adams, Politics & Opinion Editor

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With the traditional Midterm campaign season kicking off this past Labor Day, few states are bustling with as much political activity as Virginia.

Of the eleven congressional districts in the state, four are considered very competitive, including the nearby 10th district, which encompasses parts of Fairfax and Mclean counties. Additionally, Democrats have an opportunity to finally win back control of the House of Delegates, after Republicans scraped by with a majority as the result of a coin toss in 2017.

This means that millions of dollars are being pumped into Virginia campaigns by national party organizations to fund advertising and canvassing efforts, and most importantly, to secure a majority in the House and Senate for their party come November.

However behind the scenes, there are many dedicated groups working to elect candidates and raise awareness about campaign issues at a local level. These include two political clubs at George Mason: the Young Democrats and the Teenage Republicans.

Both are relatively new to George Mason. The Young Democrats club was started by senior Acacia Wycoff in order to organize the largely liberal student body into a more effective political movement.

“At first I didn’t really see the point of a Young Democrats Club at George Mason,” said Wycoff, “but after talking with local organizers, I realized that a lot of students don’t have formed political opinions or interests even if they are very liberal. The Young Democrats exists to help these students become more politically active.”

A group of students stand with a state Senator for a photo.

Young Democrats meeting with State Senator Dick Saslaw in late May. (Photo courtesy of George Mason Young Democrats Twitter)

To prepare for the Midterms, the Young Democrats are planning campaign events including phone banks and possible canvasses in support of candidates at the statewide and local levels. They will focus their efforts on two campaigns in particular: Senator Tim Kaine’s reelection bid, and Jennifer Wexton’s effort to unseat Republican Barbara Comstock, who occupies a district of the House of Representatives that Hillary won by nearly ten points in 2016.

The Young Democrats also plan to work towards a less partisan goal: increasing voter turnout.

“[The Young Democrats] are working with League of Women Voters and Teenage Republicans to host a voter drive at George Mason,” said Wycoff. “I think it’s important that we prioritize turning out voters, regardless of their party.”

The Teenage Republicans (TARS) are also organizing to support candidates and policies that reflect their values at the local and national level, but in a less direct way.

Instead of focusing on specific campaigns, TARS will be working to increase the visibility of Republicans in George Mason.

“We are going to be bringing in guest speakers throughout the year, and organizing more debates with the Young Democrats,” said senior club President, Vlad Munteanu.

Despite dismissing the “blue wave” of Democratic victories expected to occur in 2018, Munteanu is concerned about the current political climate for Republicans.

“I am not completely hopeful that the Republicans will maintain a majority. The Midterm elections are without a doubt a referendum on President Trump, [and] I think that this will lead to an increase in Democrats in the House/Senate.”

Nevertheless, political activity at George Mason on both sides of the spectrum will continue to increase as the definitive elections of the Trump’s first term draw closer.