Campaign to Campaign: New College Republican Leadership

Image Courtesy of the College Republican

By Jack Rowing

On April 21, Catholic University’s College Republicans held elections for their new leadership. Three of the five seats were taken by candidates from the group self-titled Let’s Save CRs. Sophomore history major Joseph Stillwell was elected Chairman, junior politics majors Ben Kelley was elected Vice-Chair, and sophomore politics major Adam Joseph was elected Administive Chairman. Their campaign directly opposed the current direction in which the College Republicans had been moving with substantive qualms about the way in which the club was functioning. 

Stillwell feels that College Republicans is not  living up to its potential. He lauded earlier administrations’ campaigning efforts in surrounding states as a practice that should be revived, such as trips to advocate for Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Jon Runyan of New Jersey, amongst others. These campaign events seemed to be a norm within the club, which has since been lacking, as he noticed that they have only done one phone bank. 

Stillwell has a vision for his club and wants to see it come to fruition. He wants the club to focus on what he describes as the “politics of possibility.”  Stillwell would like to see College Republicans having a more direct impact on the community. He also believes that if College Republicans emphasize campaigning and communication, they could increase participation. As he put it, he’d like to see “College Republicans be a roaring elephant for future years to come”.

Administrative Chair-elect Adam Joseph reiterated Stillwell’s points. He described the previous administration as “complacent, [they] didn’t do a whole lot with elections”. He’d like to see College Republicans do a couple more big events next year, including a campaign for the New Jersey gubernatorial election, as it is one of the few that will take place in an off election year. He also would like a congressional speaker, and a joint event with the Young Americans for Freedom or the American Conservation Coalition. He would also like to see the board have a more active role with their Freshman Representative, and even possibly get Colorado Representative Lauren Boebert to come and speak about second amendment rights.  

Both Stillwell and Joseph have campaign experience, and Joseph worked on the 2020 Trump Victory Campaign and as a Georgia Field Organizer. Stillwell worked for Congressman Chris Smith on his 2018 campaign, and is the Executive Director of the Young Republican Federation in New Jersey. 

Junior politics major Brynn Reese, the outgoing Vice-Chair, lost her bid for the position of President. Reese had clarified very early on that she had no “no bad blood” and simply wanted what was “best for the club”. She was very happy with the turnout for the election and felt that it means exciting things for the club in the future. 

Reese, while understanding many of the future leaders’ complaints, recognized a series of challenges they might encounter while running the club. Administrative red tape is a prohibiting factor for club autonomy, and this past year, there had been lots of COVID-19 protocols that prevented them from doing as many events that they wanted, Reese said. Her biggest argument, however, was simply that many of the club members do not enjoy campaigning and it can be difficult to get people to sign up to do door knocking in the hot sun, especially in nearby races that are heavily favored to remain in Democratic control. 

Despite the tumultuous election cycle, there was no ill will towards any of the incoming or outgoing members. This election was highly substantive amongst club members who were very passionate about the direction the club may take.

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