This story was written by Amy Faxon, Montana Kaimin
Both University of Montana students running for state House seats were defeated Tuesday night.Dan Stusek, a senior in political science, and Steve Dogiakos, a sophomore in business, lost to Robin Hamilton of House District 92 and Dick Barrett of House District 93, both Democrats.Hamilton beat Stusek with 2,818 votes to 1,448, winning by 1,370 votes while Barrett earned 2,584 votes to Dogiakos 1,404, beating him by 1,180 votes, as of press time.Jedediah Cox, a UM graduate, ran as a Republican candidate in House District 99 but stopped campaigning in October to accept a one-year teaching job in South Korea. He told the Missoulian in October that he would return to the state if he won, but he was defeated by Democratic challenger Betsy Hands Tuesday night.
Stusek and Dogiakos said they were disappointed by the election outcome but were not too surprised.Its a rough day for Missoula Republicans, Stusek said. I am a little bit disappointed, but Ill get back up tomorrow to work to better our state and the Missoula area even though I didnt succeed today.Dogiakos agreed, Im a little disappointed, but it was not unexpected.Barrett was happy about winning House District 93 but was more delighted with Barack Obama winning the presidential race.Obviously, Im pleased because I won, he said. Its not just that Im pleased that I won, Im incredibly moved by Barack Obamas win.Barrett has two main issues: education funding particularly for the university system and environmental issues, including climate change, he said.Those, I think, are kind of bread and butter issues, fundamental issues of concern for people in House District 93, Barrett said.Hamilton, who served two previous terms in the legislature, will continue to work on educational funding, push for teachers to be on a state health benefits plan, push to use solar energy more often and start a green schools caucus within the legislature.We havent funded education as much as I think it needs to be, so Id like to continue to work on that, he said.Hamiltons expertise is in education, but he said he would also like to see solar power used more often.Schools are a particularly good place to use solar energy because they only need electricity during the day, Hamilton said.Monday afternoon, Hamilton, a retired English teacher, said he was confident he would win his race.I will win easily, he said. My opponent is a young College Republican who has done virtually nothing. He has run no campaign whatsoever.Stusek said it was tough to find the time to campaign while juggling classes, work and serving as an ASUM senator.I havent been able to hit every door, that is true, he said.Barrett, a retired UM economics professor has been active on the campaign since over a year ago, knocking on practically every door in the district. He felt good going into the election, but would not predict the outcome Monday afternoon, he said.Ive told everybody, I dont take anything for granted, Barrett said.Stusek decided to run for office after attending a meeting where people were trying to find a Republican candidate to run in district 92, he said. He lives in that district and thinks he could have done a good job, Stusek said.Id like to win (the race) or get close enough so Republicans in the future can feel confident to make a 100 percent effort in winning, he said Monday afternoon. Its really hard for Republicans to run in my district.Stusek plans to run for an elected office in the future, but maybe not the immediate future because he plans to attend graduate or law school, he said.Dogiakos, a UM student who is taking this semester off, ran for House District 93 first and foremost, to represent our generation in Helena, he said.Laws are being passed that students do not have a say in, but they affect us, Dogiakos said. We need to have a say in it now.If elected, Dogiakos would have focused on making educationaffordable and available for everyone, would have made sure that UM graduates could stay in Montana by making housing affordable and would have helped to create an economy in the state for sustainable jobs.Those three (issues) are really relevant to our generation, Dogiakos said.Hamilton and Barrett both said it is great for college students to run for the legislature.I think its a great experience for any man or woman, Hamilton said.College students bring a different voice to the legislature that really helps the delegation, he said.