Coming off a successful midterm election cycle, the GW College Democrats are waiting to back any one candidate for the 2020 presidential election.
The group will follow a growing pool of at least eight Democratic presidential candidates, but student leaders said the organization will not endorse or support any candidate until there is an official nominee at the Democratic National Convention next July. Instead, College Democrats leaders said they are taking the upcoming months to educate organization members about key policies like climate change and abortion so students can make an informed decision in 2020.
College Democrats President Bridget Anzano said the organization is not involved in any active campaign. She said members of College Democrats are currently supporting several different Democratic candidates as they jump into the race, but the organization is waiting to see how the primaries next year play out before party members support one particular candidate.
“We don’t really want to throw our hat in the ring too early in terms of campaigning or throwing our support behind any one candidate,” she said.
During the “off-cycle,” she said members will hold a panel discussion about climate change and a discussion about mass incarceration next month to educate members about key issues. College Democrats is also hosting two fundraisers this year to support Planned Parenthood and survivors of domestic violence.
“That way, when it comes close to seeing who the real front-runners in the Democratic primary are going to be, our members know what issues they’re interested in, are more informed about how they feel about different policy areas,” Anzano said. “Then, they can make more informed decisions for themselves about who they want to support.”
In past years, College Democrats has held town halls educating members on issues and candidates in preparation for elections. The organization has also invited and supported some candidates who have announced their bids for president, including South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former student Elizabeth Warren, now a senator from Massachusetts.
Lauren Bordeaux, the Mount Vernon Campus freshman representative for the College Democrats, said the organization’s events this semester aim to keep students engaged in the Democratic Party and aware of all the candidates running for office. She said that while it is still early in the race, she hopes the large number of candidates will not divide the organization.
She said during the midterm elections, most members of College Democrats rallied for any Democratic candidate running for office, but the organization will need to be more conscious about the Democratic pick in the presidential election to ensure the person can beat a Republican nominee.
“For midterms, it was just like if you’re a Democrat, please win,” she said. “It wasn’t like anything you had to look into. But with all of these candidates running, you’re going to have to.”
Yunny Seo, the director of campaigns for the College Democrats, said she is going to use the next couple of months to teach members about the different components of a campaign outside of the “very familiar” phone banking and volunteer activities. College Democrats campaigned in Virginia’s 10th congressional district last semester in preparation for the midterm elections.
Seo said she will invite speakers, like current and former campaign managers and advisers from the 2016 presidential campaign, to talk members through the logistics of running a presidential campaign. The speakers will also represent a variety of campaign backgrounds, like communications, finance and social media, Seo said.
Seo said members of College Democrats want to be as active as possible before the race heats up, but “it’s hard to bet on a horse” when the election is still in its early stages.
“Right now, I think it’s a lot about waiting,” Seo said. “It is pretty early. I’m very surprised that so many candidates announced very early because we still have like a long time ahead, and so it’s going to be a very lengthy campaign process.”