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Opinion: It's time for students to start engaging with the Democratic primary

ASU students need to start pressing candidates on the issues that matter most to them


“ASU students will play a large role in deciding what Democratic candidate wins Arizona.” Illustration published on Sunday, June 16, 2019.

As the 2020 presidential primaries approach, more candidates are expected to begin visiting the Valley in order to appeal to the ASU student base.

However, to ensure visits from a variety of candidates, students should begin attending and engaging with primary events and pressing the candidates on the issues that they, as students, are concerned about.  

Students should expect Arizona to be treated differently this election cycle due to recent Arizona elections favoring Democrats more than in previous years. 

Over half of the Democratic primary votes in Arizona in the last few years were cast in Maricopa County, which encompasses all four of the main ASU campuses. This area, and the ASU student population, includes a large portion of the population that candidates are seeking to recruit. 

During the 2016 election, then-candidate Hillary Clinton spoke to students on the ASU campus and during the 2018 midterm cycle, current presidential candidate Bernie Sanders visited ASU before he declared his candidacy for the 2020 race. 

Mosts recently, candidate Julián Castro held a town hall in Tempe on June 13, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg held a public fundraiser in Tempe on June 16.

However, of the 24 candidates vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, there has yet to be a declared 2020 candidate who has spoken at an ASU campus. 

Candidates aiming for 2020 need to understand that the student vote is not going to be easy to collect just because of the age range. It is a vote that relies on strong and tangible policy that positively impacts the livelihoods of ASU students. 

There are a variety of clubs and organizations on campus that represent and deal with the multitude of issues that students are passionate about and that candidates are currently discussing on the national level.

On-campus groups such as One Resistance, Arizona Students Association, Planned Parenthood Generation Action and the March for Our Lives ASU chapter are actively working to keep students informed and hold politicians accountable for their policies.

"It's really important to get out there and get involved to have that blue wave come about," said Emma Galligan, the secretary for ASU Young Democrats.

Questioning candidates on the issues that matter to us as college students is integral to setting the standard for what policies these candidates should be implementing in their platform if they want to secure the ASU student vote. 

"Figuring out what information is out and what you care about is really important, as is doing your own research and not just relying on social media and other people's opinion to figure out your own," Galligan said.

Students should continue demanding on-campus events by the Democratic presidential candidates and sending the message that students have serious stake in the 2020 election.

“We showed in this past election how much power we have, and it’s important to use that in our presidential elections,” Galligan said. 

Reach the columnist at or follow @JennyGuzmanAZ on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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