Student Political Groups Wind Down; Senate Seat Still For Grabs In Minn.

This story was written by Devin Henry, Minnesota Daily
One week post-election, student groups on campus are adjusting to life without campaigning.

For some, work isnt done members of the states College Republicans said theyre focusing on the highly contested U.S. Senate race, which will end in a state-mandated recount because Sen. Norm Coleman only leads by 206 votes.

But for others, like those who supported President-elect Barack Obama, its been a restful, jubilant week.

To the Victors

After a year-long run, Students for Barack Obama has begun closing shop, Curt Baker , the groups president, said.

Obama won resoundingly on campus, garnering more than 71 percent of votes cast at the two precincts on the University of Minnesota campus.

It doesnt get much better than that, Baker said. Thats it: mission accomplished.

Students for Barack Obama was founded last fall, and gained momentum after Obama did well in the early primaries.

Baker said the group focused more on recruiting volunteers and making sure students were registered to vote during the general election season. That may not be the sexy side of campaigning, but if you look at the results, it clearly worked, he said.

Some members of the group are already looking ahead to the next big election in the state, Baker said they want to create a group to draft Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak to run for governor in 2010.

Waiting on the Recount

The U.S. Senate race is still in limbo, with Republican Sen. Norm Coleman holding only a few hundred-vote lead over DFL opponent Al Franken .

Pete Noteboom , Students for Al co-chairman, said there isnt much for his group to do except wait it out.

We effectively reached the campus community, spread the good word about Al, Noteboom said. I think we did our job getting the word out to the students that Al would be a good senator for everyone, and will be a good senator for everyone.

Franken won more than 55 percent of the vote at on-campus polls.

Travis Symoniak a St. Thomas senior who heads Youth for John McCain in Minnesota, said College Republicans in the state will be focusing on the Senate recount over the next month.

Symoniak said College Republicans and McCain volunteers will observe as county offices physically recount the ballots.

[Coleman] won re-election, we just have to secure that and make sure he did, he said.

Republicans refocus

As for the presidential race, Symoniak said there wasnt much more College Republicans could have done to get McCain elected.

The atmosphere this year for Republicans was tough, obviously, he said.

Volunteers made more than 100,000 calls and knocked on more than 10,000 doors during the election, Symoniak said. I really am proud of what we did, he said. I dont have any regrets at all this election.

Republicans on campus are looking to upcoming races as well, College Republicans chairman Abdul Magba-Kamara said. "Our main focus is to see what we did as a group, how we preformed as College Republicans and try to get more people active and get more people aware," he said

Magba-Kamara said the College Republicans group would focus on recruiting new members and working toward making gains in upcoming Minnesota elections.

But for now, he said, the group will, sit back, take a breath, collect ourselves and go back out there and hit the floor as hard as possible.

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