While all eyes seem to turn toward this fall’s national elections, students at the College of William and Mary are playing a role in determining who will be the next Virginia senator in the U.S. Congress.
Current Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., announced last year that he would not seek re-election this coming fall. Former commonwealth governors George Allen, R, and Tim Kaine, D, are now locked in a heated campaign to obtain the open seat.
Both candidates are courting the votes of university students across the state, as demonstrated by the recent launch of Students for Kaine, a student mobilization arm of the Kaine Campaign at the College.
“[Students for Kaine] is a statewide project,” President of the College’s Young Democrats Katie Deabler ’12 said. “[The Kaine Campaign] asked people on various college campuses around the state to sign up on a list of people who support Gov. Kaine, and they are going to use that list to demonstrate student support and also for organizing purposes. … During elections, we try to see what the campaigns need and meet those needs as best we can because we are a really valuable source of manpower for them.”
Both parties seek to expand their control of Congress in response to repeated instances of political deadlock since the Democrats lost some control of Congress in the Nov. 2010 elections, which returned the House of Representatives to Republican control. Democrats still continue to control the Senate.
As the Republican Party edges closer to determining who will represent the party in the race against President Barack Obama, many also look toward contested seats in the Senate that will define the new government.
“Not only is this election important to College Republicans, the voters of the Commonwealth of Virginia have the opportunity to elect a conservative senator for the first time in four years who will bring back fiscal responsibility in Congress,” First Vice Chairman of the College Republicans Chandler Crenshaw ’14 said. “George Allen seeks to end budget deficits so that our generation will not have to succumb to the negative impact of a high national debt.”
Despite ongoing concern within Washington, D.C. about rising debts in the world, Kaine and Allen remain firm on their proposed relationship to higher education, if elected.
“Education is a cornerstone of Tim Kaine’s Senate campaign, and he is focused on policies that will develop a talent-based workforce that can compete for 21st century jobs,” Kaine for Virginia Deputy Press Secretary Hannah Schwartz said in an email. “As Virginia’s next Senator, he will continue this steadfast commitment to education, and he will work to tackle the rising cost of college tuition to ensure high quality education is affordable for all Virginia students.”
Allen believes that public education policy should empower state legislators and school officials to determine what is best for their individual institution. Allen further articulates that the federal Department of Education is poorly positioned, comparatively, to manage publicly supported schools.
“Where public education works well, we should leave it alone,” the website for George Allen for U.S. Senate said. “But, where it is failing our students we should look for alternative methods, choices and solutions.”