Campaign College and the RajinCajunsMarch 18, 2009
Originally posted on the AU Woman and Politics Institute blog, this post is by Jillian Rubino, Director of Leadership Programs for the American University Women & Politics Institute.
On Saturday, March 7th, 2009, the Campaign College tour made its second stop at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. It was my first official business trip, and I have to say, it was a great way to start. I arrived in Louisiana on Friday, March 6th, and was greeted by our student liaison, who took this yankee out for a Louisiana good time! We went to Mulatte’s with a few of her friends, and what an experience it was. I tried lots of new foods: boudain, frog legs, alligator, craw fish and real Louisiana bread pudding. It was all surprisingly delicious.
Saturday morning, we headed over to campus bright and early and started the program a little after 11:00am. Our participants, although they were few, they were really excited for the day’s agenda.
After a welcome message, I started the day with a discussion of the importance of women in politics. I talked a little bit about my experience with Campaign College and student government at American University, as well as how the Women & Politics Institute’s partnership with AAUW and Running Start developed. I went over the disparity between men and women in government representation at the state and federal levels, and how when women get a seat at the proverbial table, not only do the topic and issues discussed change, but the way in which those issues are debated changes as well.
We also heard from Nancy Landry, a State Representative for the 31st District of Louisiana. She discussed her path to politics how she has made an impact. Nancy is a perfect example of the importance of running after losing. She explained that when she ran against an incumbent in her district she only lost by 33 votes. In that campaign, she learned how to fundraise, and she got comfortable asking for money. Shortly thereafter, the incumbent abruptly resigned from his seat, leaving Nancy as the frontrunner in the race. She raised $150,000 in 35 days to win. Nancy Landry is going places. Keep an eye out for her on the national stage in the coming years.
After lunch, I gave a presentation on messaging. We talked about the challenges that women face as candidates, how to face negative attacks in a campaign, and how to market yourself. The participants also had the opportunity to brainstorm with each other about issues they each wanted to tackle during their respective campaigns.
Next we heard from Kimberly Wooten, UL’s current Student Government Association Treasurer. She went over the qualifications for SGA candidates, and the different positions available in the upcoming election. She also went over all of the documents and paperwork necessary to run.
Over the next half hour of the training, our participants practiced some real campaigning skills. They had thirty minutes to get as many people as they could to attend our Campaign College Reception at 5:00pm. Whoever received the most “votes” at the reception, won a prize from the Women & Politics Institute. They all used a variety of different methods to recruit “voters”: email, facebook, text messages, phone calls, canvassing, etc. They also had time to sign up for Running Start’s online Campaign College Network, where Campaign College participants from around the country can connect and exchange advice and tips for running successful campaigns on their campuses and for public office.
The program ended in a talk with two of UL’s past SGA members. Jessica Clarke is a former SGA President, and Marguerita Auguillard is a former SGA Treasurer. They both spoke about their campaigns, their experiences in office, and how greatly their work with the SGA impacted their professional lives. They both said that the amount of responsibility they were given really helped them mature professionally. Additionally, they made great connections with members of the UL administration and they have kept those networking ties over the years.
Our day ended with a reception, where one of our participant, won the Campaign Simulation by an overwhelming majority. She was able to get her friends to come to the reception to “vote” for her, and she was awarded a Women & Politics Institute business card holder.
The most gratifying moment of the day was when our simulation winner came up to me and said that she came to Campaign College with no interest in running, and she left with her paperwork ready to be filed. She running. That’s what it’s all about.