After the debate Friday at Northwestern College, members of College Republican chapters around the state will be able to vote for Minnesota’s College Republicans’ next state chair and junior Andrew Hasek is in the running.
Hasek, UST College Republicans president, debated against opponent junior Danny Surman from Macalester College Friday at Northwestern College. If elected state chair, Hasek would represent all College Republican chapters in the state.
Hasek announced his state chair candidacy Feb. 7 and said the last few months have been “contentious.”
“I’m competing against everyone in the state,” Hasek said. “We’ve made videos. We’ve done graphics, full endorsements; it’s been pretty much go-go since February.”
If elected, Hasek said he would essentially be the governor of College Republicans and would represent Minnesota nationally.
“You run and make sure that every chapter in the entire state is doing well,” Hasek said.
Freshman Mackenzie Watson said Hasek may face a challenge in the race against Surman.
“My only thoughts are that St. Thomas is not as politically active of a campus as Macalester,” Watson said. “Not many people know about the College Republican chapter on campus.”
Surman’s efforts at Macalester have not gone unnoticed.
“I co-founded our chapter of the College Republicans at Macalester, ranked the most liberal college in America by the Princeton Review in 2011,” Surman said. “In the next year, after I became co-chair, we became the Minnesota College Republican Chapter of the Year.”
Sophomore Roman Oberle said having a St. Thomas student represent the state of Minnesota would be good for the university.
“I would be extremely proud,” Oberle said. “It demonstrates the strong leadership skills of St. Thomas students and portrays St. Thomas students as active leaders/participants in our community.”
Political science professor Angela High-Pippert said getting involved in politics during college fosters better participation throughout life.
“College is a really good place to develop civic skills,” High-Pippert said. “This is really our best place to kind of reach them and encourage them.”
Hasek became UST College Republicans president after some management issues within the club. Hasek said the progress he’s made since then is one of the reasons he’s running for state chair.
“I inherited a chapter that was not doing well at all,” Hassek said. “When I was elected last year, I had maybe five to 10 people coming to meetings. There were no plans for the fall at all.”
The group now has around 40-50 students showing up at meetings and around 300 on its email list.
Hasek also had to deal with financial issues as the group’s leader.
“I even inherited a financial issue because of service hours; we didn’t submit them, so we had no funding for the fall,” Hasek said. “I had to privately fundraise for our club in order to keep us doing all these events. I pretty much turned around St. Thomas.”
Freshman Peter Moe said Hasek showed his strengths as a leader, turning the UST College Republicans into “arguably the most active chapter in the state.”
“In this past election season, UST College Republicans were extremely involved in campaigning: making phone calls every Thursday, door knocking for local candidates, helping out at the Paul Ryan rally, etc.,” Moe said. “In one year, UST College Republicans went from a nearly non-existent chapter to one of the driving forces in Minnesota College Republicans.”
In addition to campaigning, Hasek said the club meets every Thursday during convocation hour.
“Most of the time we bring in a speaker, sometimes we have discussion based stuff, like we’ll talk about some current events or really just anything that’s on the news, really anything involved with politics,” Hasek said.
High-Pippert, who had Hasek as a student, said there are several aspects that go into a good candidate, and that Hasek has all of them.
“I think people would be looking for someone who is well versed in republican party principles and conservative political ideology and yet can, is more than that, that can also speak in ways that people will connect with and that he can motivate people,” High-Pippert said. “I think he actually has all of those qualities.”
Kayla Bengtson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.