Political rally attracts few students

Dakota Bixler

Dakota Bixler

I found the candidates were basically saying the exact same thing.– John Mickelson, SDSU biology student

With 50 days remaining before the Nov. 2 elections, three out of the four congressional candidates spoke Sept. 12 to a crowd in front of the Brookings County Courthouse.

The speeches were part of an old-fashioned political rally that is part of the ongoing celebration of Brookings’ 125th birthday.

“The speeches were fair,” says SDSU biology major John Mickelson. “Yet I found the candidates were saying basically the exact same thing.”

Despite the decent turnout, the rally failed to attract many SDSU students. The crowd attendance was mostly a mix of senior citizens, community leaders and political activists.

“It was disheartening that there was not a stronger turnout of SDSU students,” said Mickelson, commenting on the conspicuous absence of college kids.

Although the rally introduced many local and county political candidates, the event was focused primarily on the U.S. congressional races. The three national candidates focused their speeches on their qualifications and important issues.

“Since being elected June 1, I have served as an independent and effective voice for South Dakota and I want to continue to make that one voice count,” said U.S. House Rep. Stephanie Herseth, D-SD.

Herseth focused on her non-partisan approach to issues such as renewable energy, country-of-origin labeling on meat products, and changes to the “No Child Left Behind” act, among others.

She was optimistic about the upcoming election and looks forward to continuing her promise to run “a positive and respectful campaign” throughout the race.

Herseth’s opponent, House candidate Larry Diedrich, R-SD, also advocated the energy policy in his speech, as well as rising health care and insurance costs.

Diedrich, a farmer, told the citizens that by voting for him, they would be electing a congressman that represents the best interests of the state.

“Out of the 435 members of the House, there are 147 attorneys compared to the 16 farmers and ranchers,” Diedrich said. “What does that say in regard to issues important to South Dakota?”

Diedrich wants to promote the state’s successful agricultural industry and seek out opportunities for farmers and ranchers.

U.S. Senate candidate, John Thune, R-SD, focused primarily on the energy bill. He says South Dakota needs “a new voice and new leadership” in the Senate.

His opponent, Sen. Tom Daschle, D-SD, was unable to attend the rally.

“It was a very positive event,” said SDSU business economics major Tim Wrenn, commenting on the absence of negativity during the rally.

SDSU freshman Andy Janes liked the fact that the rally was not in a debate format.

“It was good to go to a political event where the candidates weren’t bashing each other,” Janes said.

“Instead, each candidate kept emphasis on why voters should vote for them and what issues they really wanted to focus on.”

Mickelson, who plans on voting Democratic for the open congressional seats, is excited about the upcoming elections.

“I am glad Daschle is running; he is a great asset to the state of South Dakota.”

“His important leadership position in the senate gives South Dakota a precedence that it otherwise would not have.”

Foreseeing an enthusiastic student response to voting in the upcoming November election, Wrenn mentions that the candidates don’t have campaigns directed towards students, so the issues fail to hold up an aspect of saliency for them.

“The issues on the slate don’t directly affect young people. Maybe if there were more pressing issues concerning today’s youth, more students would have been present,” he said. “As a student, I am not affected, for example, by prescription drug plans.”

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