The College of William and Mary Young Democrats hosted local Democratic candidates state Sen. John Miller (D-1) and Del. Robin Abbott J.D. ’01 (D-93) Saturday to rally enthusiasm for the Nov. 8 state legislature elections.
While the students and candidates acknowledged that the 2012 elections are currently foremost in voters’ minds, they stressed that a high turnout for the upcoming state elections is critical.
“This is what we call the off-off-year election. Everyone’s focused on next year, on the presidential election,” Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Brian Moran said. “But we need to focus the next 10 days on these legislative races.”
Moran also emphasized that voters and activists would have more individual impact in the upcoming elections than in the national elections taking place next year, due to the turnout in the less-publicized local elections.
“This year, [voters] may not know John Miller … They may not know Robin [Abbott]. They may even forget to vote. They may not even be paying attention to this race. That’s why your efforts in this race could really make a difference,” Moran said.
Katie Deabler ’12, president of the College chapter of Young Democrats, said the state elections would have more of an impact at the individual level, particularly for public university budgets.
“These elections don’t get a lot of attention, but state elections are what affect your daily life. Political issues that actually affect your life — like education funding, transportation funding — those happen at the state level,” Deabler said. “This election has very high stakes for the school because our funding comes from the state. The Republican Party just wants to cut funding. That’s pretty much all they have to offer.”
Miller, who has served in the Virginia state Senate since 2007, said that high turnout would be key for maintaining Democratic control of the Senate.
“Every year you hear, ‘This is a very critical election.’ But this is a critical election,” Miller said. “Because if the Senate flips, this will be a different Virginia.”
Abbott, who has served in the House of Delegates since 2010, currently faces a tough re-election campaign against Republican candidate Mike Watson.
“One of the reasons this is such a targeted race in the House of Delegates is because I have been such a loud voice up in Richmond that [Republicans] want to get rid of me,” Abbott said.
In an interview, Abbott said she would be opposed to cuts in state funding for public universities.
“I will fight to make certain that more funds come this way [to Virginia public universities],” Abbott said.
“The General Assembly has got to step up and adequately fund higher education,” he said.
Deabler also noted that students should be reminded that their polling locations may have changed. Students who registered to vote listing Brown Hall, Tribe Square and Sorority Court as their address will continue to vote at the Stryker Building, but all other students will now vote at the Williamsburg United Methodist Church on Jamestown Road.