A man in Minnesota once said this: “The future will belong to those who have passion and are willing to work hard to make our country better.”
Now, it’s been ten years since that man, Senator Paul Wellstone, has passed away. But through iconic green and white “Wellstone!” signs displayed on laptops and bumpers, we remember his outspoken, progressive nature embodied within that one exclamation point.
“Thank you for your passion, thank you for being here,” said Senator Al Franken after reciting the Wellstone quote to a crowded Griggs Center last Wednesday night. “Thank you for the hard work you are going to be doing over the next 13 days.”
Before visiting Wellstone’s memorial site in Eveleth, Minn. last Thursday, Senators Franken and Amy Klobuchar came to tell UMD students and community members they “Gotta Vote.”
A nationwide campaign supported by Obama for America, the Gotta Vote bus tour hit the road last week to rally Minnesotans to get out and vote. More than 42 stops will be made around Minnesota during the campaign. Joining the Senators’ stop at UMD were Minneapolis Mayor and DNC Vice Chair RT Rybak and State Auditor Rebecca Otto, as well as local candidates Eric Simonson and State Senator Roger Reinert.
The walls of Griggs Center were layered with political signs supporting democrats running in this year’s election, some of which are running for a second term like Senator Klobuchar and President Barack Obama.
“Gotta Vote is about educating voters and reminding people to vote and to think about what they’re voting for,” said UMD student Kate Sandvik. “It’s really important that not just the democrats get out and vote, it’s important that everyone does.”
Sandvik, deemed the political “black donkey” of her family (her mother, father and brother all belong to the Republican Party), took her political interest further by becoming the UMD campus coordinator for Obama for America.
While Sandvik was preparing for Get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts on campus, like tabling and dorm storms, the Obama for American office was notified of the Gotta Vote tour. She said the downtown Duluth office was barely given a week notice of the event and were told that Monday Senator Klobuchar would be there.
She recalled posting signs throughout campus just two days prior to the rally and admitted the short notice did take its toll.
“In hindsight there should’ve been more publicity about it,” said Sandvik. “The main reaction I heard from people was they wished they would’ve known about it.”
Consistent with the apparent theme of passion, Senator Franken was followed by State Auditor Otto who had some words of advice for undecided voters: find three issues you are passionate and do the research to find which candidate agrees most with you.
“Personally, I’m about higher education, equality, and the mines because where I’m from we rely on the mines,” said Kimmy Newton, the public relations director of Student Association. “I focus on the things I feel are most important to me and that’s what I use to influence my decision.”
Overall, the goal of the Gotta Vote tour at UMD was to rally volunteers for GOTV efforts in Duluth and to encourage those attending to fulfill their civic duty. Although not heavily publicized, the event did gather hopeful volunteers for the few days remaining until the election.
BY: KIM HYATT firstname.lastname@example.org