The UCSB College Republicans believe their success rate has surged this year in issues ranging from the presidential, senatorial and local elections to voter registration and club membership.
Third year business economics and history major Anthony Mascovich, UCSB College Republicans president, said the group’s influence has grown substantially over the past few years. The College Republicans have a total of 300 members, 50 to 60 of which are active in the club – an increase of several dozen from last year’s numbers.
“More young people are registering Republican [at UCSB] than ever before,” Mascovich said.
Third year business economics major Logan Pribbeno, a member of the group, said the success of the club is due, in large extent, to the work of alumnus Lee Gientke, a 2002 UCSB graduate, who reorganized the College Republicans in 1999. Pribbeno said the club had existed somewhat informally for many years at UCSB, but Gientke started it on a path to greater popularity.
“It became apparent that the club had potential, and he turned it into an active and thriving club,” Pribbeno said. “He started the American Heroes Series, where we do a big campuswide event every quarter, either a speaker or a movie. Originally, [Gientke] brought [war veteran and Fox News host] Oliver North to campus. This quarter, we had Celsius 41.11.”
Celsius 41.11 is a documentary in rebuttal to Michael Moore’s anti-Bush documentary Fahrenheit 9/11.
The club has also made itself known to students this year in the push to register voters by tabling in front of the UCen.
Mascovich said the College Republicans are endorsing the campaigns of President George W. Bush, 23rd Congressional candidate Don Regan, State Assembly candidate Bob Pohl and Senate candidate Bob Jones. The club intends to sponsor get-out-the-vote activities such as campaigning door-to-door and calling registered Republicans to enlist support for the party’s campaigns.
Although no definite date has been set for any pre-election rallies, Pribbeno said, there is one event the College Republicans are eager to hold.
“Of course, we’ll be hosting the post-election victory party,” he said.
Pribbeno said he thinks Republicans are gaining ground in the fight for traditionally Democrat-leaning California. Eventually the Republicans will be the majority party in the state, Pribbeno said.
College Republicans secretary Jenna Booth, a fourth year global studies major, said both parties face the same demographic problem.
“In my opinion, America is 45 percent Republican, 45 percent Democrat, and we fight over that remaining 10 percent,” Booth said.
Traditionally Democrat-leaning Santa Barbara County has plenty of downsides for conservatives, Pribbeno said. The politics of Santa Barbara ensure that the Republicans who win elections here are left-leaning, he said.
“To get a candidate elected, they have to be center-left to liberal,” Pribbeno said, “[Third district supervisor] Brooks Firestone could not have won as a conservative.”
Mascovich said there is much to be done on campus to create a friendly atmosphere for conservatives.
“We need to do more to get our views respected by the faculty,” Mascovich said, “We want conservatives to know that there is a place for them on campus.”