The new chair of the College Democrats signs his e-mails to the group “Democratically Yours” – and he means it.
LSA sophomore Nathaniel Eli Coats Styer was appointed chair of the University’s chapter of College Democrats last week. Styer, who described himself as “devoted to the Democratic Party,” said he plans to work to mobilize the 1,500-member group to get a Democrat elected in the 2008 presidential election this fall.
“It’s a huge time commitment,” Styer said. “But I think there’s a greater cause. And if I have to lose some sleep, so be it.”
The election, Styer said, is a crucial one for the Democrats, and the University’s chapter of College Democrats has a chance to make a big impact.
“A Democrat cannot win the election without Michigan, and Michigan’s not going to go Democrat without turning out Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan,” Styer said.
Styer said he plans to develop an election strategy with other members of the group over the summer. He said he hopes to draft a plan that would assign students to chair different committees and schedule activities for every day from the beginning of fall term to Election Day in November.
To help a Democrat get elected, Styer said he plans to hold tailgates before football games and hold rallies on the Diag where members of the College Democrats will pass out literature on candidates, give away stickers and register voters.
The group also plans to canvass with “district invasions,” where members of the College Democrats will travel to other voting districts in the state. Styer said some members might travel to Ohio if the Democratic campaign needs them there.
“We’re going to go full steam for whoever it is,” Styer said.
While John McCain secured the Republican nomination on March 4, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have been locked in a dead heat in the Democratic race since then.
So far the University’s chapters of Students for Obama and Students for Hillary have campaigned hard against each other.
Styer said he’s confident that the “friendly tension between the two groups,” would diminish, allowing the groups to come together by November.
LSA sophomore Tom Duvall, chair of University’s Students for Obama group, agrees.
“The people who are involved with ‘Students for’ groups are also involved with College Dems, so at our hearts we’re all Democrats,” Duvall said.
One reason for Styer’s relaxed attitude might be that he already has experience uniting Obama and Clinton supporters. His mother is a staunch Clinton supporter, while his father backs Obama.
Styer said he’s a Democrat because of his mother, a University alum. His mother, he said, encouraged him to “get out of conservative Holland, Michigan” where he grew up.
Styer described her as a “pretty big feminist” and more outspoken than his father.
The family often discusses politics, but things get interesting though, when they start talking about specific candidates, he said.
“My mom is a very strong person and she wins those debates all the time,” Styer said.
When asked which candidate he supported, Styer said he supported Obama because “Obama has a set of policies and an agenda that will give us the most change in our nation.” Styer was quick to mention that he would support either of the Democratic candidates “100 percent” in the general election, though.
Double majoring in political science and philosophy, Styer said he might try transferring into the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. He intends to study law or work for political campaigns in the future.
Styer beat out two challengers, LSA junior Sarah Duffy and LSA junior Salim Alchurbaji, to win the position. Both opponents said they were confident Styer will manage the organization well.
“Nathaniel’s a great guy. He’s more than competent,” Alchurbaji said.
Styer’s predecessor, LSA senior Sam Harper, said he believes Styer’s managerial skills and experience as co-chair of the Student Issues Committee will benefit him as he oversees future events.
“I’m very confident that with the election, there will be a surge of people wanting to get involved, and he’ll be able to capitalize on that and get people engaged on campus,” Harper said.