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Drake Students Organize with Organizations

Posted: September 26, 2019 | By: John Hirl Tagged: Blog

Barack Obama excelled at inspiring college-aged voters to organize and canvas for him. This fact is referenced in a 60 Minutes video about the early days of his 2008 campaign. Now, 12 years later, the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are attempting to motivate college students in the same way. This week, I sat down with Darby Holroyd and Ireland Larsen, who lead on-campus groups for Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, to talk about their experience using registered student organizations to encourage Drake Bulldogs to caucus.

Currently, Drake has five ad-hoc student organizations for 2020 candidates. This includes Bulldogs for the People (Kamala Harris), Bulldogs for Booker, Drake Bulldogs for Pete, Warren’s Warriors, and Student Organizers for Bernie. These are considered “ad-hoc” because they will be dissolved once their candidate drops out of the race or, as they hope, secures the nomination for President. In addition to the candidate organizations already in place, some others are still in the works. Notably, Joe Biden is set to have a student organization established for his campaign soon.

Darby Holroyd is the Campus Captain for Bulldogs for the People. She told me she was sold on Senator Harris after the Brett Kavanaugh hearings last year and was hoping to work on a campaign while in school. “I knew that this was something I wanted to do,” Holroyd said. “I wanted to do something really deep because after the 2016 election it felt crucial to me to be active in this process.” Holroyd said she got involved with the Harris campaign through the “Camp Kamala” training program which taught her how to canvas and got her connected to relevant campaign staff.

Ireland Larsen was exposed to the various Democratic candidates through her FYS and was excited about Booker after attending an event he was at. After fully committing to Senator Booker, she ran into Adam Henderson, the Regional Organizing Director for Cory Booker’s Iowa campaign, at the restaurant she works at and the rest is history.

In terms of on-campus programming, both groups are excited about the events they have planned for the semester. Bulldogs for Booker has already hosted a screening of “Street Fight”, the documentary chronicling the 2002 Newark City Mayoral election in which Booker was the challenger. Additionally, the group is pushing to get Senator Booker on Drake’s campus and is also collaborating with other student organizations that Booker supports. Bulldogs for the People, on the other hand, is planning a mock caucus, or mockus, to help students understand the caucus process and how they can participate in the Iowa caucuses. Both groups said they would be present at the “Dem-ester Kickoff”, which is described by the Drake Democrats as “an activities fair for Democratic campaigns”, on October 2 from 3-5 pm.

Finally, I asked both women what their favorite candidate moment has been thus far. For Holroyd, she said she was touched when she saw Senator Harris tell each little girl present at a Des Moines house party that they could be president themselves. For Ireland, she was surprised by the amount of one-on-one communication she has had with Booker. She also remembers a moment at the end of a Booker event at a barbershop in which Senator Booker asked her if she would be shaving her head like some of the other Booker supporters present, to which she replied “no”. Either way, these stories represent some of the experiences that working on campaigns can give Drake students, and these student organizations represent ways in which candidates are attempting to rally support with college students.