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Students respond to Joe Cunningham coming to Clemson

Joe Cunningham

           With midterm elections quickly approaching, Democratic candidate for governor of South Carolina, Joe Cunningham, has been making his rounds to various universities in the state. Just last week, Cunningham was re-welcomed to Clemson’s campus by the Clemson College Democrats for the second time this fall, sparking various responses from students.
            The candidate visited Clemson’s Hendrix Center this past Friday, Oct. 21, where he spoke to students about the importance of voting in the upcoming November election. Fortunately, The Tiger was able to find out more about how students really felt about Joe Cunningham’s recent visit through Outlook’s ‘Speak Up!’ section, where students were chosen at random to share their thoughts. Several responses consisted of students who were unfamiliar with who Joe Cunningham was, and others who were indifferent about his recent appearances on campus. However, many of the responses were supportive of the Democratic nominee.
            Many students mentioned that they think Cunningham’s efforts to reach students were admirable, and not something they are used to seeing when it comes to political figures. Some even went as far as to say that they feel, as students, overlooked and not taken seriously when it comes to elections. However, this is not the case with Joe Cunningham. He is visiting universities, meeting students and including them in his journey. Students also expressed their support for Cunningham’s goals to legalize marijuana, give women control over their own healthcare, give teachers a pay raise and fix the state’s infamously poor roads.
            However, some students were not so supportive of the Democratic candidate. Although they appreciate Cunningham’s efforts to speak with students, they disagree with some of his views, such as legalizing sports betting. Some even suggested that his campaign does not fit the values of South Carolinians. Fish Belk, a junior architecture major with the Clemson College Republicans, made a statement on the subject:
“We are unphased by Joe Cunningham’s attempt to upset the long-precedented Republican governorship in South Carolina. He failed to convince voters in the purple first congressional district when he lost to the moderate Republican Nancy Mace two years ago. His views on abortion, immigration, and the second amendment do not reflect the values of most South Carolinians, and we urge his supporters, especially those at Clemson, to find bluer pastures and leave our great red state alone.”
            Belk argues that due to Joe Cunningham’s failure to convince voters in the past, this will most likely hold true in the present, especially considering his forward-thinking views are too liberal for a state that has maintained its conservative identity for as long as it has. He argues that rather than change South Carolina’s political standing, supporters of Cunningham should move to a location that suits his campaign. However, Katy Bortz, a senior women’s leadership and political science major with the Clemson College Democrats, gives her take on the matter:
“I am thrilled that Joe Cunningham valued Clemson students enough to make two visits to campus this fall! With such critical rights on the line this fall, including access to reproductive healthcare, it is vitally important to give students the opportunity to hear from a candidate for governor. Joe Cunningham’s campaign continues to make a clear effort to communicate with and appeal to young voters, a key group needed to turn a historically red state, like South Carolina, blue. However, he is not solely relying on the youth turnout. I have had numerous Clemson students tell me that their lifelong Republican parents are voting for Joe Cunningham in November. Joe Cunningham presents a platform that appeals to ALL South Carolinians, not just Democrats. He is drawing attention to roads and education that everyone, regardless of political party, agrees must be made a priority. There is real momentum with this campaign, and our Clemson College Democrats executive team has felt it during our communications with Cunningham’s engaged and knowledgeable staff. To anyone reading this: GO VOTE.  Every. Single. Vote. Counts.”
Bortz argues the importance of seeing a political nominee for who they are and what they stand for, rather than the political party they are affiliated with. She argues that students are the key to changing this way of thinking and to changing South Carolina for the better. She emphasizes that every South Carolinian can find appeal and inspiration in Cunningham’s campaign, which she has witnessed firsthand with her team.
As November approaches, Joe Cunningham continues to try to reach students, not only at Clemson University, but all over South Carolina. Research the candidates for this upcoming midterm election and form your own opinions for who you want to see in office, but most importantly get out and vote. Your opinion matters.

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