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Candidates encourage students to vote

Megan O'Neil | Thursday, October 28, 2004

With only six days remaining until the election, the Indiana Congressional candidates from the 2nd district, Chris Chocola and Joe Donnelly, are remaining steadfast in their campaign tactics and hopeful their campus visits made a difference among the Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s community.

Representatives for both men, who have made visits to Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s, said there would be no major changes in strategy during the final weekend of the race.

“We’re just sticking to what has been working well so far,” said Donnelly’s press secretary, Jonathan Diffley.

For the Democratic challenger that means an effort largely waged on foot. Donnelly and his campaign team have spent weeks knocking on doors in critical neighborhoods urging people to register to vote.

The chore in the final few days is to get those people to show up at the polls.

“We are just working on getting out our vote,” Donnelly said.

And for some, it is working.

Saint Mary’s junior and 2nd congressional district resident Shelby Baughman said the campus visits reminded her of the importance of voting.

“Both politicians have made considerable efforts to come to our campuses, encouraging us to vote in the upcoming election,” Baughman said. “I think that their appearances will increase the newest voter’s turnout come next Tuesday.”

Democrats will extend every resource on Nov. 2 to get people to vote, making phone calls, providing transportation and monitoring polling places, including one at the JACC.

In contrast, Chocola’s campaign has been characterized by steady television advertising and reminding constituents where the incumbent stands on the most critical issues, such as the economy and national security. According to his press secretary Brooks Kachvar, Chocola fulfilled 2002 election promises to cut taxes and voters responded positively.

“We are making sure that the voters know his voting record,” said Kachvar.

In a poll conducted by The South Bend Tribune and WSBT-TV that was released Wednesday, Chocola had 55 percent of the vote. Donnelly was 15 points behind with 40 percent. There is a five percent margin for error.

Donnelly, however, contested the results.

“We have our own polls, and they show a statistical dead heat,” he said.

According to Diffley, the Tribune poll does not bear much weight.

“We are not too concerned about the polls,” Diffley said. “What we are concerned with is the numbers on Nov. 2.”

Diffley urged people to vote conscientiously.

“Don’t base your vote on the polls, base them on the issues,” Diffley said. “I think a lot of people vote for someone only because they think they are going to win.”

Saint Mary’s junior Jocelyn Demeter said regardless of what political party people belong to, it is always important to take the time to be educated on the candidates running and cast an informed vote.

In addition, Demeter said the candidate campus visits helped her realize her vote would in fact count.

“I am happy that the two candidates have taken the time to come and speak with the students,” Demeter said. “With more and more young people voting each year, it shows that they have faith in our generation and value what is important to us.”

Ads for both candidates are now running on all the major networks.

One of the ads features former 2nd Indiana District Representative Tim Roemer endorsing Donnelly. Roemer, a close friend and fellow Notre Dame graduate, served as congressman for 12 years before retiring and being succeeded by Chocola.

“One of the great things about the 2nd district is that there is a close connection with Roemer and where he stood,” said Notre Dame Democrats outreach coordinator Helen Adeonsun, who has volunteered for Donnelly since May.

While both candidates have agreed their political differences are stark, the most important platform issue has been clear – jobs.

As a congressman Chocola sponsored a tax cut bill aimed to assist small business in hiring new workers. According to him the bill will result in 17,990 new jobs in Indiana.

Donnelly has pledged that as a representative he will vote against the outsourcing of jobs and for increased job skills training.

The candidates’ plan for Tuesday is simple.

Greet supporters, knock on doors and of course, voting themselves.

Notre Dame senior Bob Masters said knowing how important this election is will be reason enough to cast his ballot.

“I’ve heard Joe Donnelly speak twice at both Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s,” Masters said. ” Both times he stressed that, for young people, this election is the most important election of our lives, particularly because of issues such as the war in Iraq and the increasing National Debt which directly effect our generation. I definitely appreciate that a politician would both try to see things from a young person’s perspective as well as take the time to meet younger votes and gauge our concerns.”

Angela Saoud contributed to this report.