Judah Waxelbaum, an ASU senior studying political science, has announced his candidacy for chairperson of the College Republican National Committee.
The 21-year-old served as chair of the Arizona College Republicans for three terms, has been western regional vice chair for the CRNC since July and is now running to mend the divide within the Republican party.
Waxelbaum plans to unite a broader Republican party that is at a crossroads. He said their actions over the next two to four years will determine the future of the party, potentially for decades to come.
"A lot of people in the party are upset, feel disenfranchised and are determined to kick someone else out. We need to move beyond telling other people who belongs in the Republican party," Waxelbaum said. "The only way we will be successful is if we understand that a diversity of ideas in the party is not a weakness."
About three weeks ago, Waxelbaum said he would retire from his position with the CRNC at the end of his undergraduate career.
But after receiving support from numerous CRNC subgroups from different states, Waxelbaum decided to run for the two-year term of chairman. Waxelbaum and his campaign team now work to make his vision clear: restoring the CRNC to an organization that he believes produces the brightest political activists of the next generation.
"I have concern that over the last four years, the CRNC has become more of a social club than the farm system that built the future of the party," Waxelbaum said.
Waxelbaum plans to have the national committee run similar to how he believes the federal government should operate: with little involvement in state matters.
"I'm here as the resource if you need me, but other than that I think (state leaders) know how to run (their) state better than me," Waxelbaum said.
In recent years, Waxelbaum said he feels like the CRNC has sat back and watched organizations like Students for Trump and Turning Point USA cut into their lead as the premier collegiate Republican organization in the country.
"The CRNC needs to protect its brand and membership," Waxelbaum said. "We need to get back to the problem of having more volunteers than opportunities to give them, and we’re not at that point."
Waxelbaum has been praised by fellow CRNC members for his ability to unite all versions of Republicans at a state and national level.
"Whether they be traditional Republicans, social conservatives, Bush Republicans or Trump Republicans, he's been able to unite those people in Arizona and the West, and I think he can take that to the next level," said National Committeeman for the Kentucky Federation of the CRNC Caleb Childers, Waxelbaum's friend.
At last year's national CRNC board meeting, Waxelbaum was the only state chair to get a resolution passed unanimously, which he said happened thanks to his work with every individual state CRNC organization. According to Waxelbaum, the resolution banned the CRNC from holding contracts with businesses that support the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement against Israel. The resolution also publicly announced that the CRNC stood with the Jewish community in the face of anti-semitism.
Waxelbaum was an intern for late Sen. John McCain's final Senate race and helped out with former President Donald Trump's first run in 2016. He believes this experience prepared him to unite "all shades of red."
"Those campaigns were not exactly on the same page, so an area I'm very familiar with is having a relationship with every aspect of the party," Waxelbaum said.
While Waxelbaum thinks it might be "a very clear path" to victory, ASU College Republicans President Joe Pitts, a sophomore studying business, is cautiously optimistic.
"I don't think he expects it to be easy, he knows he has to work hard for it," Pitts said. "Judah is dependable and has a vision, and I've been really pleased to see his whole platform for CRNC chair because I think it's going to be good for all college Republicans across the country."
Elections for the national committee will be held in July.
"It's a common stigma in youth politics that we're the next generation, but the truth of the matter is that we’re here now," Waxelbaum said.
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