The Temple College Democrats are heavily campaigning and canvassing Main Campus in anticipation of Jim Kenney’s probable mayoral victory Tuesday.
The on-campus organization is “dedicated to voter outreach and engaging Philadelphia’s youth with the Democratic party,” according to its website.
The student organization has registered more than 150 voters for this year’s general election.
Democrats have held the mayoral seat since 1952. Damien Bower, a senior political science major and president of the organization, believes Kenney will continue this pattern and win the race.
“Whoever wins the primary tends to win the general election,” he said. “It’s not a really contested election.”
Because of this, the College Democrats are mostly focusing on increasing voter participation. This year, the mayoral primaries experienced an all-time low in voter turnout—27 percent of those registered voted in the election.
Thomas Caffrey, a sophomore public relations and political science double major and secretary of the organization, said the organization has registered about 175 voters.
Despite this statistic, Caffrey said there is a lack of voting because it is not a presidential election year, but he predicts “a huge spike in voting” in 2016. The Temple Democrats were concerned by this low voter turnout, Caffrey said.
“Usually the people not voting now are young people, people in minorities—people who generally would vote Democrat are not voting,” Caffrey said. “Maybe they don’t know about the election, or don’t know to get an absentee ballot.”
Students and voters should pay attention to races other than those for mayor, Caffrey said.
“There are things like City Controller, all these different positions that are not as glamorous as mayor but they do a lot of work,” he said. “In truth, they kind of impact your life more than said mayor and said presidential candidate.”
If Kenney loses the election, however, Bower said the defeat would be the Democratic party’s fault.
“If Kenney was to lose the election, I would have to put it towards arrogance of the entire Democratic party,” Bower said. “It would mean we feel that it’s such a majority in this city, we feel we don’t have to run campaigns.”
Caffrey agreed it is likely Kenney will win. He was, however, also impressed with Republican Melissa Murray Bailey’s performance in the mayoral debate on campus Oct. 19.
“I was surprised by Bailey, I thought she did an excellent job,” Caffrey said. “One thing Kenney has over her is experience. She’s still young and I think that she will have an excellent career in politics. … As mayor of Philadelphia right now, I don’t know if she would excel as much as Kenney will.”
Both Bower and Caffrey said Kenney has the background to be productive.
“The great fault of Nutter’s entire administration is the strained relationship he’s had with City Council,” Bower said. “Kenney’s understanding is seeing what it’s like when the mayor’s office is not exactly cooperative and the result of that will be helpful to him and he will be able to mend the relationship.”
“I like someone who comes from a working class and does things within that,” Caffrey added. “I am a fan of people like that more so than people with Ivy League degrees and are kind of disconnected form the middle and lower classes.”
Lila Gordon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.