College Republicans campaign for local conservative races

USC College Republican members volunteer to phone bank for Republican candidates before the California midterm elections. (Photo courtesy of Sahil Nandwani)

The College Republicans at USC partnered with College Republicans of other universities within Los Angeles County to campaign for conservative California candidates this weekend.

On Saturday, the student organization campaigned for Rita Topalian, a Republican running for the U.S. Senate, and on Sunday for State Sen. Janet Nguyen’s re-election campaign.

USC College Republicans members also helped campaign for Young Kim, who is running to represent California’s 39th District and Steve Knight and Dante Acosta, who are running for re-election as U.S. representative and state assembly member, respectively. Some students also attended a rally in Santa Clarita for Knight, Acosta and gubernatorial candidate John Cox.

As part of its volunteer deployment efforts, the College Republicans made lawn signs, participated in phone banking and went door-to-door to talk with community members about the candidates they supported, encouraging them to vote.

Austin Macleod, the vice president of College Republicans at USC and a senior majoring in international relations, said volunteer events encourage students to show support for local politicians and help Republicans gain popularity in California.

“Even as a Republican in California, people like to think ‘Oh you’re never going to get a majority’ and that’s true, but we can prevent a super majority,” Macleod said. “There’s a lot of things we believe we can still do, and we think it’s just really important to get involved as much as we can.”

Last month, the College Republicans at USC participated in another volunteer deployment with other universities to support Frank Scotto, who is running for South Bay Assembly. Around 25 to 30 students met Scotto and learned about his position and views on current issues, according to Sahil Nandwani, the treasurer of College Republicans at USC.

Macleod said that working with local conservative campaigns was crucial for an election year. Through these events, the organization hopes to create a sense of community and space for conservative students.

“How are you going to talk about politics and …  be a part of College Republicans if you’re not actually trying to help out your fellow Republicans who are running for office?” he said.

Nandwani, a junior majoring in philosophy, politics and law, said that after campaigning for Scotto, members from the other L.A. colleges and universities went to the beach, and that the volunteer deployment events helped Republican students at different schools bond and form friendships.

“It’s really nice when you have everybody there together and then you can go do some sort of a social event afterwards, and you can actually connect all of these people who share some of the same views,” Nandwani said.

He added that these events were helpful in encouraging political activism for young people in general.

Rex Alley, secretary of College Republicans at USC and a senior majoring in political science, said the volunteer deployments also help members of the organization get to know one another and encourage civic engagement by educating members on local politics.

“It creates this mentality where you’re a part of a team,” Alley said. “You’re not just sitting at home or standing in line and checking off a box next to somebody’s name. You’re actually learning about them, going out and trying to convince other people to vote for a particular candidate, and I think that really fosters a sense of political self-efficacy.”

Nandwani said he hopes the volunteer deployments give members the opportunity to learn about local Republican politicians and become more involved in the political process.

He said he believes college students need to be more informed and civically engaged, so they can vote for and support the candidates that they believe will uphold their beliefs and values.

“At the end of the day, the only people that can really do something in terms of laws, in terms of policy, are your elected officials,” Nandwani said. “There is no reason that you should not have a stake in electing those officials. You can’t complain about the poor job that any one politician is doing if you don’t actively work in that district to either elect or reject that person or influence them in some way.”