Hauge puts experience to use for John Edwards

John Hult

John Hult

The political arena is not a new one for Emily Hauge. Last year, she was a Political Science major at SDSU and worked for Sen. Tim Johnson’s re-election campaign.

This year the political bug bit harder. It bit hard enough to lure her away from SDSU for a semester to work for North Carolina Senator John Edwards, who is campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Hauge, who is the field organizer for Blackhawk and Grundy counties working out of the campaign’s Waterloo, Iowa office, had every intention to return to SDSU in the fall. She was invited by Regional Director Jackie Lee-another former Johnson campaign worker-to help gather supporters on the senator’s Iowa bus tour in August.

After a week back in South Dakota telling friends and relatives about the campaigning experience and the senator’s charisma, Hauge was back in Waterloo.

“During the bus tour, I saw him at three different events,” Hauge said from the Waterloo office. “I was completely and totally impressed. I definitely became a believer that he is the man who can beat Bush.”

Hauge said the moderate senator’s chances of unseating President Bush played as large a role in her decision to work for his campaign as his positions. Edwards did vote for the Iraq War in March, and he supports the death penalty-positions that run contrary to Hauge’s.

“Despite certain elements of my idealistic, liberal, college outlook, I realize that as a Democrat, it’s not a time to be idealistic; it’s a time to be realistic,” Hauge said. “But in comparison with the other candidates, I agree with him more on the issues.”

Though Hauge worked for Senator Tim Johnson’s re-election campaign last year, the run up to the primary election is a new experience for Hauge.

“It’s not Republicans versus Democrats-it’s Democrats versus Democrats,” Hauge said. “So my job is to organize this area to the best of my ability, to make sure that I have the number of supporters we need to caucus for [Senator Edwards] on Jan. 19.”

“Supporters” are Democrats who pledge their support and vote on Caucus Night, which is Jan. 19 in Iowa.

Iowa is an important state for any candidate as the first to hold primary elections.

Hauge has high hopes for Edwards, pointing to the inaccuracy of early polls and a growing number of influential supporters in Iowa.

“It’s not wise to pay attention to the polls this early in the race,” she said. “We run into a lot of undecided voters, but we’re excited because we have some major people in Blackhawk and Waterloo supporting Sen. Edwards now.”

The excitement level is high, to be sure, but Hauge is once again committed to returning to SDSU (this time in the spring).

And this time she means it.

“I think about that every day, because it’s going to be really hard for me to go back after all this,” Hauge said. “But I have to go back to school. I can’t be in school for the rest of my life.”