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A Month After Election, U. Maryland Political Groups Move On

This story was written by Anna Kowalczyk, The Diamondback

A month after the respective euphoria and disappointment of election night, the University of Maryland College Democrats and Republicans are shifting their focus from getting their candidates into office to promoting their stances on issues.

"There is not much we can do politically now," College Republicans President Christopher Banerjee said.

College Democrats will focus on campus- and higher education-related issues, such as textbook and tuition affordability, as well as social issues, such as anti-racism and gay rights. Meanwhile, the College Republicans are focusing largely on national issues, such as abortion and gun rights.

Because their party had a successful election, College Democrats hope to hold forums and lectures to gather support and foster awareness of university-based issues, College Democrats Vice President Amy Hartman said.

Two weeks after the election, the club hosted College Park Del. Benjamin Barnes (D-Anne Arundel and Prince George's), and members have a number of plans for the spring semester. The group will hold forums about the passage of Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in California and other states, with Equality Maryland and on racism and civil rights with the Black Student Union and the university's NAACP chapter. The College Democrats also hope to invite a CNN reporter for a lecture, which Hartman said would be the highlight of the semester.

Meanwhile, Banerjee, a junior government and politics major, said College Republicans are planning "to defend conservative ideals and to raise awareness of important issues" as they await the 2010 elections.

Rather than deciding on specific issues to tackle, the Republicans will react to issues as they arise, Banerjee said, and will probably explain conservative perspectives through pamphlets and speakers.

The group also reserved some of its funding for trips to Washington to speak to Republican and Democratic representatives about the issues important to young voters, Banerjee added.

While spreading conservative ideas, College Republicans also hope to discuss new ideas for how the party should be rebuilt for the future, after setbacks in two consecutive national election years. Banerjee has tentatively planned a state conference with other College Republican chapters and possibly state representatives to focus on the future of the party.

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