Cheers and applause resonated throughout the Ford School of Public Policy building Monday evening as Democratic candidates pumped up about 130 University students and members of the Ann Arbor community for the University College Democrats’ Election Eve Rally.
Among the list of speakers were many candidates at the top of the Michigan Democratic ticket, including gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer, Lieutenant Gubernatorial candidate Lisa Brown, Attorney General candidate Mark Totten, U.S. Senate candidate Gary Peters, Congressional candidates Debbie Dingell and Pam Byrnes, State Senator Rebekah Warren and Secretary of State candidate Godfrey Dillard. Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje and Democratic mayoral candidate Christopher Taylor also spoke.
“The idea is to give candidates and elected officials a chance to speak about why this election is going to be a really important one for the state, why it’s important for students and why it’s important as a whole,” said LSA junior Stephen Culbertson, communications director for the University’s chapter of College Democrats.
The rally aimed to encourage students to vote this election cycle, especially because non-presidential elections are known for attracting fewer voters. Many of the candidates cited low voter turnout among young voters as the reason for substantial Democratic losses in the 2010 midterm elections.
“We need you tomorrow,” Dingell said to the cheering crowd. “We’ve got to take the state legislature back. We are here tonight to create the energy, to create the enthusiasm to remind your roommates and the people and in your houses and in your dorms that tomorrow matters and what’s at stake.”
Schauer said he believes the student vote will push Democrats ahead in the election.
“I am an optimist about our future and I trust you with the future of this state,” Schauer said. “It is in your hands and I am completely comfortable with that.”
After the rally, the College Democrats posted flyers and chalk messages around campus.
“We’re doing everything we can to make sure that if you’re a student at the University of Michigan, you know that it is Election Day and you know who the Democrats are,” Culbertson said.
In addition to encouraging students to vote, many candidates discussed their positions on fundamental issues like the environment, women’s rights, health care and LGBTQ rights. Many candidates also discussed their goals for empowering the people over big business and corporations.
“This is really a critical election to show that big money can’t buy elections,” Peters said. “It is the people of the state of Michigan who get to determine who their Senator is, who their Secretary of State is, who’s their Attorney General, not these out of state billionaires.”
Culbertson said that the state elections, and especially the gubernatorial race, are still very important for out-of-state students.
“We’re voting for someone who is going to sign the state budget for higher education and sign the road funding, and they’re going to be signing bills of anti-discrimination legislation,” Culbertson said. “Even if you’re only going to be on campus for four years, all of those things will and should matter to you. I think this election is incredibly important and it’s incredibly important to show up on Election Day.”