On Nov. 7, candidates across the United States will hold their breath to see if months of campaigning have paid off. But they will not be the only ones waiting in eager anticipation: Yalies who have been working hard behind the scenes to promote candidates will be just as anxious.
In recent months, members of the Yale College Democrats have canvassed for a variety of candidates, from mayoral races in Connecticut cities like Derby and New Britain to state legislative campaigns in Virginia and gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia. Yet the Dems’ focus is not only on campaigning for Democrats: The student group has also partnered with nonprofit organizations to advocate for progressive legislation while promoting political dialogue on campus.
“Connecticut doesn’t have statewide elections this year, and we’re campaigning where our efforts can create maximum results,” Yale College Democrats Election Coordinator Jordan Cozby ’20 said.
Among the most important parts of the Dems’ efforts is the 45 Yale students who have matched with state legislative campaigns in Virginia and New Jersey, giving the Dems an opportunity to work as remote interns throughout the semester, Cozby said.
Throughout the semester, the Dems have campaigned for Ralph Northam’s gubernatorial bid in Virginia, as well as the rest of the Democratic ballot in the state, Cozby said. The organization also urges members to help phone bank for Democrats regionwide.
Keerthana Annamaneni ’20, the communications director for the Dems, for example, has urged members to make calls for David Rose-Carmak, who is running for the House of Delegates in Virginia. In an email to members, she described the race as “critical” to ensuring that Democrats break GOP control of Virginia’s state government next year.
Cozby also emphasized the importance of a Democratic victory in Virginia, noting that the state could expand Medicaid and provide health care to many people if it goes blue. He added that the “stakes are high,” and the “results will likely be very close” in these elections.
Besides the Dems’ campaigning efforts, members expressed gratitude, saying they enjoyed the camaraderie and experiences the organization provides.
“I have always been a Democrat but had very little experience working on campaigns until I joined the Dems at Yale,” Annamaneni told the News. “Finding a group of interesting, passionate, progressive people my age definitely inspired me to start getting involved.”
Legislative Coordinator Makayla Haussler ’19 said the thing she has enjoyed most about the Dems has been the “emphasis that [they] place on action and actually getting stuff done.”
The Dems hope to spread this involvement, especially on election day. According to Cozby, the “Get Out the Vote” effort is one of the most important parts of a campaign. On Nov. 7 and in the days leading up to the election, the Dems plan to phone bank and travel to Derby to encourage as many people as possible to vote.
Using the money they raised during an event in early October at Temple Grill — which featured U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-New Haven, state Sen. Gary Holder-Winfield, D-New Haven, and state Rep. Matt Lesser, D-Middletown — the Dems traveled to Virginia and New Jersey over fall break to canvas in those campaigns.
And as the semester continues, Cozby said, the Dems hope to gear up for the statewide 2018 Connecticut elections, especially the gubernatorial race.
Ashna Gupta | firstname.lastname@example.org