The Campus West Obama For America office celebrated its official opening Friday with pizza and a little SNL throwback.
Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, a former Saturday Night Live writer and performer, spoke to a crowd of approximately 75 people crammed into the campaign office at 1205 B West Elizabeth Street.
“This was a good time to have this opening because we were able to get such a big name speaker to come in and just kind of talk to the community about why what we’re doing is so important,” said Haley Damm-Hamblin, a campaign volunteer. “And also it is that final push toward the election and so if we have this now it causes that effect right now, right when we need it the most.”
Although the office caters to the CSU community, most of the people who came to see Franken speak were not students. Fort Collins resident and campaign volunteer Judy Wray is a long-time supporter of Franken and met him when she went to a senate subcommittee hearing in Washington.
“I don’t think a lot of students are as familiar with Al Franken as other people,” Wray said. “Let’s face it, the students here for the most part four years ago were in high school and just weren’t as familiar with what was going on then.”
Not all students are so uninformed, however. Franken’s political career impressed Paul Gallogly, a junior chemical and biological engineering major.
“I came just because it’s an honor to see any sitting senator, and my grandma’s a huge fan of his SNL career, so I had to get a picture with him,” Gallogly said.
Celebrating the office opening is not just about the food and special guest. It is an opportunity to raise awareness of the office’s resources and availability, according to Damm-Hamblin. The office answers election questions, does voter registration, and directs campaign volunteer efforts within the community.
“It’s starting to get down to the final push before the election and it’s so important to just get as many people involved,” Damm-Hamblin said. “…Students see us handing out buttons on the plaza and they’re like ‘Hey, you know, I can do that in between my classes,’ and so they’ll come out and hand out buttons and register more voters and that’s just how that whole movement snowballs.”
Student and community volunteers are the hope of the campaign, according to Franken. He believes that the individuals who canvassed for him in his senate campaign helped him win.
“Tell your friends, talk to friends who may not be thinking that their vote matters: tell them why it does,” Franken said. “It really makes an enormous difference what you’re doing. So just go out there, go get them, be persuasive, knock on the doors, be friendly.”
Although Gallogly’s schedule does not allow him to volunteer, he appreciates the office’s work with canvassing and voter registration.
“It definitely gives me confidence that there’s people going around doing things in the community that helps the political atmosphere in general,” Gollogly said. “Just knowing other people are doing things is really cool.”
Every action to support the campaign counts, according to Franken, who won the election to the Minnesota senate by a close margin after a recount.
“We were talking about how close my election was: I won by 312 votes,” Franken said. “So don’t wake up on Nov. 7 and say ‘Gee, I wish I’d done a little bit more.’”
Politics Beat Reporter Kate Winkle can be reached at email@example.com.