It’s a story they like to tell over and over again and Wednesday’s University of Connecticut rally was no different.
It’s the story of “Landslide Joe” Courtney, the Democratic incumbent in the 2nd Congressional District who defeated former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons by 83 votes in 2006. Courtney maintains that it was the student vote on the Storrs campus that helped make a difference.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy, who joined Courtney Wednesday, hopes he too will benefit from the student vote.
“The stakes could not be higher,” said Courtney. “On November 2nd we need to have the absolute strongest turnout possible from this campus.”
Mansfield’s Registrar of Voters reports registering almost 1,500 new student voters, totaling over 4,000 registered students living on-campus. About 6,442 registered voters live in UConn’s voting district, which amounts to more than half of Mansfield’s 11,898 registered voters.
“The student vote definitely made a difference and it’s a story we continue to tell today,” Courtney said. “We’ve seen a change in priorities because of the youth vote and after the election of Barack Obama.”
Courtney lauded a number of measures geared toward helping students. Cheering broke out when he mentioned the elimination of fees paid to private banks acting as third parties that provide college student loans. The saved money pours into federal Pell Grants, or need-based grants to low-income undergraduates and graduate students.
“The revenue Pell grants generate was $7 million in 2007 and today it’s $21 million,” he said. “Republicans froze Pell grants for six consecutive years before I came to Congress.”
“If our state had elected a Democrat in the last 20 years we would have had a stronger state,” Malloy said.
“A great turnout on this campus and other campuses is going to be vitally important,” he said. “Do everything in your power to make sure those Democrats vote. Communicate with as many people as you can and tell them that we’ve met each other and that we understand each other.”
State job loss and a rapidly aging workforce peppered Malloy’s address as he asked students to vote Democratic and “take back the state.”
“I’m not running as captain of the Titantic,” he said. “I’m running to be captain of a new ship.”
Two candidates for state representative also came to show their support. Democratic candidate and Mansfield Deputy Mayor Gregory Haddad and Independent candidate and UConn student Jason Ortiz both agreed the Democratic involvement on campus will prove a positive step toward Election Day.
“I was a student at UConn the last time we elected a Democrat as governor and that needs to change,” Haddad said.