TAPP canvasses for Las Vegas Democratic candidate

Members of Trojan Advocates for Political Progress pose for a photo after canvassing for CA-25 Democratic candidate Katie Hill in October. (Photo from Facebook)

Trojan Advocates for Political Progress headed to Las Vegas from Nov. 2 to Nov. 4 to campaign for Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen, who is running against incumbent Republican Sen. Dean Heller. In the state of Nevada, TAPP President Alec Vandenberg said the goal was to engage people who usually do not vote in the midterm elections.

Since Heller is a USC alumnus, Vandenberg said students may automatically vote for him. However, Vandenberg said that TAPP is campaigning for Rosen because they believe Heller doesn’t properly represent the USC community.

Vandenberg said Heller promised to protect the Affordable Care Act and vote against the American Health Care Act, but ultimately violated that promise. He instead supported the Graham-Cassidy Bill, which would reduce Medicaid funding.

“As USC students with our own personal political beliefs and our own ideologies, we don’t think he’s indicative of what we stand for at USC in that capacity,” Vandenberg said.

Vandenberg had been analyzing where TAPP could make the biggest impact, and between Nevada’s close proximity and the urge to push out Heller, the group decided to go to Las Vegas.

“The last thing we want is [to wake] up on Nov. 6, thinking that we didn’t do enough or that we could’ve done more,” Vandenberg said. “This weekend is part of a last minute effort to really make sure we have no regrets on Election Day.”

To get to Nevada, Esequiel Sandoval, a senior majoring in policy, planning and development, served as the point of contact for the Rosen campaign through a previous job. Even though he is not a member of TAPP, Sandoval said he’s been impressed with how TAPP has been able to mobilize  for events like this.

On Saturday, the group knocked on nearly 400 doors in an effort to garner support for Rosen, spending several hours in the afternoon going around neighborhoods. The next day, they began their second shift at 9 a.m., reaching about 200 more voters and also sending out texts, according to Vandenberg.

Nayanika Kapoor, TAPP’s Vice President of Internal Relations, said the political environment in Las Vegas was vastly different from that of Southern California’s.

“It’s way more moderate and the candidates are more moderate as well,” Kapoor said. “[Las Vegas] is a very different demographic, and we were acutally canvassing for Democratic voters. [A lot of it was] convincing voters to show up at the polls.”

Sandoval believes that Nevada is a key state to help turn the Senate from red to blue. Two seats are needed for the Democratic Party to take the majority, but 35 seats are up for reelection in 2018, meaning that the 26 seats held by Democrats will have to be retained in addition to turning two of the nine Republican seats.

Nevada could prove to be a tight race, with Heller’s approval rating at 37 percent and his disapproval rating at 44 percent.

Kapoor said that TAPP was looking to make a national impact in their canvassing efforts, and Rosen’s campaign was an opportunity for the group to become involved in a Senate race.

Both Vandenberg and Sandoval stressed the need to get involved, especially with this year’s elections. Sandoval said that even though young voters may feel like their voices are unheard, they should not wait for the ideal candidate.

“Convincing people there’s value in coming off the sidelines in a midterm election is so, so important,” Sandoval said. “These are the most important midterm elections at least in the last 50 years.”