Democrats across the country are walking tall this year. On campus, Jamie Ruth is the perfect example of that tendency, literally and figuratively.
Ruth, the 6-foot 3-inches tall former chair of the College Democrats, presided over the organization during the elections last November that saw Michigan Democrats retain the governor’s mansion and take control of the state House of Representatives.
Under his stewardship, College Democrats knocked on thousands of doors across the state to try to rally votes in the governor’s race and the state congressional seats during the November election. Ruth sent out campaign memos to the organization that were pages and pages long, said LSA senior Ryan Werder, a spokesman for the Dems.
“Jamie worked twice as hard as anyone,” Werder said.
It paid off. Democratic governor Jennifer Granholm held onto her office by a comfortable margin and, in a surprise win, the Democrats took the state House and nearly managed to gain control of the state Senate.
Before Ruth, the Dems weren’t an exclusive club, but their outreach and retention programs were lackluster. To remedy that, Ruth took steps to get every willing member actively campaigning and organizing.
Anger over the war in Iraq and the perceived ineptitude of the Bush White House was fueling new activist energy in the student body, and Ruth wanted to harness that energy.
“A lot of students were saying, ‘I was never interested in politics before, but I’ve got to do something now. Things are getting pretty extreme,’ ” Ruth said.
Ruth also commissioned a redesign of the college Democrats website. It went from a bland, and seldom updated template to an attractive, multimedia intensive hub for community organizing. It’s this kind of online presence, rare among campus student groups, that Ruth says is the future of grassroots campaigning.
Ruth says he’s majoring in “money and power,” also known as economics and political science. Ruth doesn’t know exactly what he’ll do when he graduates, but he knows he’s going to Washington to help the Democrats, ideally through online fundraising and campaigning.
After November’s election results were in and Democrats everywhere had started to celebrate, Werder said, the College Dems presented Ruth a giant thank you card made out of Granholm campaign yard signs.
“Jamie’s the only person I know who ever got a thank-you card out of yard signs,” he said.