Local GOP Shifts Focus Away From U. Iowa Students

This story was written by Anna Lothson, The Daily Iowan


Local Republicans said Tuesday they've almost completely abandoned any efforts to win the University of Iowa student vote.

Mike Currie, the vice head of the UI College Republicans, said because the university is so dominated by Democrats, the group has decided to try to win votes outside the confines of the UI campus.

"We will have a broader approach rather than a local one," he said.

Currie said his organization is closely working with the Johnson County Republican Party to galvanize the Republican base by knocking on doors and making phone calls to people who aren't involved with the UI.

"It's a better use of our time" than dealing with students, he said.

Currie remains optimistic Republican presidential candidate John McCain can win Iowa on Nov. 4.

"Polls don't look like much now, but on Election Day, people are going to see that it's much closer," he said.

Greg Baker, the chairman of the Iowa Federation of College Republicans, said the group is focused on turnout in other parts of the state rather than registering student voters.

"We can't just set up camp and hope that will carry us on college campuses," he said.

Although Baker said Republican groups haven't reached out to UI students as much as the Democrats, they are still setting up partisan tables to "show that there are Republicans on campus."

Baker also said he believes that the UI is not as heavily Democratic as people think, even though GOP efforts on campus may not show it.

Brian Flaherty, the chairman for the Johnson County Democrats, said his group will continue to register prospective voters on campus, which it has been doing since the beginning of the summer. The next goal: garnering early voters.

"Everyone should take the opportunity to vote," he said.

Some national voter-advocacy groups have come to Iowa City to try to raise voter-registration numbers.

As a rain steadily fell Tuesday, Mallory Duncan, a director for Moveon.org, walked the streets near campus, trying to register voters. She's been doing so for nearly two weeks and has gotten nearly 800 students to vow that they'll vote. Her goal is 1,000.

Although the group has a liberal reputation, Duncan said she traveled from Missouri to register anyone regardless of her or his political leanings. She said Iowa could go either way, and it's important for everyone to have a say.

But she said some students aren't registering because they don't think they can make a difference in the election - creating a harmful trend, she said.

"It's exponential, and it grows," she said.
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