ASU College Republicans sends students to Georgia for runoff elections

The club has teamed up with another conservative organization to send young Republicans from across the country to campaign for Georgia's Senate runoffs

On New Year's Eve amid the raging COVID-19 pandemic, some members of ASU College Republicans are flying to Georgia.

Georgia will have two runoff elections for the U.S. Senate on Jan. 5. The two races are between Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler against Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican Sen. David Perdue against Democrat Jon Ossoff. 

On Nov. 17, College Republicans announced its members would be teaming up with the Young Leadership Coalition to send 25 leaders to Georgia from Dec. 31 to Jan 5. to campaign for Loeffler and Perdue. 

Joe Pitts, the College Republicans president and a sophomore studying business, spoke on the importance of this election.

"(These elections) are going to determine the composition of the Senate, which is going to decide important questions like, when radical progressives are packing the courts or add new states," Pitts said. "The Senate is really the safeguard, so if we lose that, it's gonna be a big setback for conservatives in this country."

Young Leadership Coalition is a conservative, Arizona-based organization focusing on "engaging young voters" and encourages them to "vote for principled right of center candidates," according to its website

"It’s pretty crazy that it has all come down to one state, which is having two special elections at the same time," said Jeremiah Willett, the founder of YLC and former ASU College Republicans president. "But that's what it's going to come down to for the Senate majority, which is an issue that every American is going to have to be looking at, watching and helping out in their own way."

Although, this is not just an issue that affects Georgia alone. 

"It's really an issue that transcends Georgia very much, either Republican-controlled Senate Majority, or a tied Senate Majority, in which Kamala Harris cast the tie breaking vote," said Willett, who graduated in 2020 with a degree in finance.

The Young Leadership Coalition and College Republicans have very specific goals: knock on nearly 25,000 doors and make "upwards of 100,000 phone calls," Willett said.

In terms of how they are fundraising for this trip, Willett is relying on friends that he has made in Republican politics for donations — as well as grassroots donations — and has raised $62,000 in donations. 

The donations funded trips for over 30 activists from around the country to fly to Georgia. Still, a majority of students and young leaders are Arizona residents or ASU students.

They have also gotten donations from friends and family, as well as "sometimes just complete strangers that see our Facebook post online and support our cause," Willett said. 

"A lot of people will be sacrificing a New Year's Day to be on this trip," Willett said. "We want to make sure that they’re not also sacrificing their bank account."

Clay Robinson, a member of College Republicans and a sophomore studying economics and civic and economic thought and leadership, said he's excited not only to get to work, but for the opportunities that come with the trip.

"College Republicans talk about all the time getting involved and getting active and actually being out on the trail and helping candidates get elected," Robinson said. "So this is a way that we can actually put our money where our mouth is and get to work.

"It'll be exciting to get a different perspective, from somewhere else in the country, and hear about what they're dealing with the problems that they're facing."

The group isn't too worried about COVID-19 travel concerns as they plan to follow all guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

"Then once we are in Georgia, also maintaining social distancing while we are talking to voters, that’s really important," Willett said. "We definitely intend to follow all the guidelines that the state of Georgia has or the CDC has recommended."

Georgia, like Arizona, is also seeing its second major spike in the number of new COVID-19 cases per day, according to data reported by the state's Department of Public Health. On Thursday, Georgia reported 5,496 new COVID-19 cases, an increase from the state's summer peak when it reached 4,779 new cases on July 24.

According to the CDC's COVID Data Tracker, Arizona ranks third in the number of average daily cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days out of all U.S. states and territories with 78.5 average cases per 100,000 people. Georgia ranks 14th at 60.8 average cases per 100,000.

While some lawsuits, which claim baseless fraud in election processes, still pend in Arizona and across the country, Robinson, Pitts and Willett said it's time to focus on the Georgia Senate elections rather than the presidential election.

"This is me breaking from Team Trump, but election results were certified, and Joe Biden is the winner in the state of Georgia," Robinson said. "I think our energies are best served focusing on the Senate race and looking to 2022. I think it's time to take our losses and see what we can prove."


Reach the reporter at mcfisch4@asu.edu and follow @morgfisch on Twitter. 

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