U. Florida Student Democracts, Republicans Respond To Caucuses

This story was written by Katie Sanders, Independent Florida Alligator
The victories of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., in Friday's Iowa caucuses have earned support from some UF student political organizations on campus.

The Iowa caucuses jump-started the presidential nominating process for the race to the Oval Office, ending with the national election in November.

UF College Republicans Chairman Ben Grove, a UF political science senior, said Huckabee's first win, where he earned 34 percent of the Republican vote, came "out of nowhere."

"I think Huckabee really had an exuberant personality and could relate to the common man as the good ol' man from Arkansas," Grove said.

He said he does not know what the former Arkansas governor's victory in Iowa means for the rest of the primary season.

"While it's important, I think honestly the biggest primary is going to be on January 29," he said, referring to Florida's primary.

The College Republicans and the College Democrats are planning to educate students about the candidates on the Reitz Union Colonnade and Turlington Plaza all month.

"Our voters just really don't know which direction we want to go," he said. "It's a great opportunity for us because we have so much variety and choice."

UF College Democrats want Floridians to demonstrate the "same zeal for the political process" at the Florida primary as Iowans, the group wrote in a news release.

All of the major Democratic candidates have boycotted Florida's primary election because the national party deemed the primary's date too early, which has given the Republican candidates a head start to campaign.

The date was changed in May from March to January.

"We feel the state is being neglected, especially since it is a battleground state," said Mark McShera, the group's editorial chairman and UF sophomore.

McShera said the College Democrats will have a better understanding of who the front-runner will be starting next week.

But they are focused on supporting the Democratic candidate-centered groups until then.

"We congratulate Senator Obama, but it's the first fight out of 50," McShera said.
© 2008 Independent Florida Alligator via U-WIRE