Though the air was chilly as students gathered outside Weill Hall on Election Day Eve, the crowd was fired up as the maize and blue tour bus of Mark Bernstein, a Democratic candidate for the University’s Board of Regents, pulled up on Hill Street full of Michigan Democratic candidates.
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The University’s chapter of College Democrats hosted a rally on Monday night to promote the state’s Democratic candidates, including U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, U.S. Rep. John Dingell, and Michigan Supreme Court candidates Bridget Mary McCormack and Connie Kelley.
The candidates, accompanied by a number of their Democratic comrades, took the stage in a room plastered with campaign signs and blaring energetic music.
Dingell said in an interview before the event that this year’s election has had the strongest Democratic effort to date.
“We have the best, most effective get-out-the-vote effort in this district that I have seen in my career,” Dingell said.
He added that his campaign has continued to work on garnering support for all of the Democratic candidates on the 2012 ballot.
“We are going to do everything we can to re-elect every Democrat, from President Obama down,” Dingell said. “We’re going to see to it that we get the same kind of good votes for our non-partisan court candidates.”
State Rep. Jeff Irwin (D–Ann Arbor) said in an interview before the event that campaigning throughout Election Day would be instrumental for persuading undecided voters.
“For the top of the ticket, voters usually have their minds made up … as you go further down the ballot, particularly for judicial candidates and the ballot proposals, people can be swayed by a last minute piece of information,” Irwin said.
Stabenow was the first of the candidates to speak to the enthusiastic crowd of students and community members filling the room, emphasizing the importance of affordable education, economic equality and President Barack Obama’s health care reforms
Stabenow said the Obama administration has been especially important to the state of Michigan because it stood with the auto industry, bailing out Chrysler and General Motors, when no one else would. She added that the next four years should be focused on the population as a whole, and not just special interest groups.
“Community is our strength,” Stabenow said. “Caring about other people is a good thing.”
Stabenow said that though a slew of billionaires have been funding the Republican campaign, come Election Day, their influence is restricted to their one vote.
“This is not an auction, this is an election,” Stabenow said.
Bernstein appeared with fellow Democratic regent candidate Shauna Ryder Diggs, and spoke on the significance of the University for the future of the state, and his own commitment to providing students with the lowest tuition and best resources possible.
Bernstein said the products of a University education have the potential to positively impact society.
“What happens in the lab and the classroom can change the world,” Bernstein said.
He added the choice on Tuesday’s ballot is more than just between candidates — it is also about alleviating issues such as skyrocketing tuition and tuition equality.
LSA junior Alexandra Brill, the president of College Democrats, said the rally was successful in instilling excitement about the election among students.
“(The rally) pumps people up and makes sure everyone votes all the way down to the bottom of the ticket,” Brill said.
Brill said the College Democrats plan on putting up flyers and chalking the campus following the rally to remind people to vote Tuesday.
Self-proclaimed political enthusiasts LSA junior Victoria Whitworth and LSA freshman Tiasha Nandi held a Stabenow sign at the event, and said they plan on waking up together at 7 a.m. on Tuesday to vote.
Nandi said the University atmosphere has caused her to pay more attention to election issues and participate in the political process.
“I think college has made us more politically aware,” Nandi said. “It’s important to take a stand and be knowledgeable about what you’re voting for.”
Whitworth said the diverse perspectives come together at the University have made her election experience unique.
“I think Michigan provides a diverse atmosphere to be exposed to a lot of political opinions,” Whitworth said.