TUSG executives break tradition, endorse tickets separately

The VPs are split in their endorsements and President Bishop is abstaining

The current Tempe Undergraduate Student Government executives have made their endorsements separately, a change in the process from the last two years where executives endorsed as a whole.

Brandon Bishop, TUSG president, said he was abstaining from endorsements and would not consider endorsing unless a runoff were to occur. The vice presidents, however, are split. John Lauro, the vice president of services, has endorsed DeGravina and Kenzie Johnson, the vice president of policies, has endorsed Benedict. The TUSG Chief of Staff Adrianna Ramos, has also endorsed the Benedict ticket.

“I’ve been doing campaigns since I was a freshman, it’s a little relaxing to just pull myself back,” Bishop said of his decision to not endorse a ticket.

The move to endorse separately is a break from the past, where the the last two administrations endorsed as a whole. Bishop said the decision was made early in discussions to not endorse as a whole.

“There were talks about how we wanted to work out endorsements, there were never talks about one we were (going to) prefer,” Bishop said. “At the end of the day my philosophy was, we’re all adults, we all have our own views and I didn’t want us to have to pressure or force someone on our team to endorse someone that they didn’t necessarily believe in.”

Bishop said he is remaining neutral to remain a source of information for each of the tickets.

“I’ve spoken to all the presidential candidates and I’ve told them that if they want to have meetings, if they have questions about the office, operations-wise, anything like that, that I’m here to talk to them,” Bishop said. “I’d rather be an information source for student organizations and students so that they know when they talk to me and they ask me questions about specific policy initiatives that these candidates are wanting to work on or promising or services they want to create, that I can be an unbiased source for knowledge.”

Lauro and Ramos all declined to comment on their endorsements, and Kenzie Johnson said she was “proud to endorse the Benedict ticket" but declined to answer further questions.

Brittany Benedict, candidate for TUSG president, said she was in favor of separate endorsements by the current executives.

“I think that each of the (executives) have all of their own opinions and I’m really happy with the endorsements we’ve received,” Benedict said. “I know in years past they’ve maybe endorsed as a whole, but I know (Bishop) has really encouraged everybody to have their own voice this year.”

Regarding the two non-endorsements of her ticket, Benedict said she respected Bishop's decision not to endorse and was not surprised to see Lauro endorse the DeGravina ticket. Benedict said Lauro and Dayton Potter, candidate for Vice President of Policy on the DeGravina ticket, are good friends.

" ... so you win some, you lose some, I guess," Benedict said.

Benedict, while supportive of the current executives’ decision to endorse separately, would not say whether her ticket would do the same if elected.

“You know, anything can change a year from now, I guess we’d just have to see who’s (running for) office,” she said.

Aundrea DeGravina, candidate for TUSG president, also said she was in favor separate endorsements and of Bishop’s decision to abstain.

“Not going back on how the VPs have already endorsed, I’m really grateful for John Lauro’s support and I’m sure the Benedict ticket is very glad that Kenzie Johnson endorsed them, but I think executives have somewhat of a role to remain neutral,” DeGravina said. “I think (Bishop) is taking a very great step so (we) as candidates feel comfortable in confronting him when we do have issues or if we do have questions.”

DeGravina said that, if elected, she would like to follow Bishop’s lead and abstain from endorsing.

“I would definitely keep my hands out of it, unless there was something extremely egregious that was going on and I was like, ‘I need to make a comment in this for the well-being of other situations,’” DeGravina said. “I never like to say never, but I am not a big fan of super big endorsements like that, to be frank.”

Rilee Robinson, DeGravina candidate for VP of services, echoed her running-mate’s sentiment, but said it was too early to make any guarantee.

“I appreciate (Bishop), especially being at the top of the ticket, remaining neutral. I think that’s really big of him, especially as a graduating senior who is leaving,” Robinson said. “I would want to remain neutral, just because I feel that’s the respectful thing to do, but again, it’s just kind of early — we’re not there so I wouldn’t know the exact situation.”

Reach the reporter at maatenci@asu.edu or follow @mitchellatencio on Twitter.

Like The State Press on Facebook and follow @statepress on Twitter.

Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.