Student political campaign results in election

Amanda Monthei

After assisting in a successful congressional campaign for Dan Benishek during last year’s election cycle, NMU junior and Marquette native Luke Londo felt  the next logical step in his  political career was to try running a campaign of his own.

Since that decision late last year, Londo has spent the past three months campaigning for the executive committee position available in the 109th District.

On Friday, Feb. 22, Londo achieved his goal while attending the Michigan GOP District Caucuses in Lansing, where he successfully secured the executive committee seat by a vote of 9 to 8 among chosen delegates from the 109th District.

“I was genuinely surprised,” Londo said. “I walked in pretty confident that I was going to lose. The woman that I was running against, Brenda Raymond, is from the Marquette County party, she’s absolutely fantastic. She had served in the position before me, she had already been in the position for some time. But I was pleasantly surprised to win by one vote at the end of a long night of District Caucuses.”

While his election to the position was a surprise, Londo said that he put long hours into his campaign to secure the votes necessary to win.

“Working on my own campaign — lining up votes and reaching out to individuals from four different counties — was very, very time consuming and very difficult with school,” Londo said. “It’s basically calling them, emailing them, listing things I want to accomplish and then reaching out to them personally with a phone call to ask for their support. I did that with delegates from all four counties in this house district (Alger, Luce, Marquette and Schoolcraft).”

Additionally, Londo is currently serving as the secretary of the Marquette County Republican Party office, acting as a member of the College Republicans, all while juggling 16 credits as a political science major at Northern.

“It is difficult. Last semester when I was campaigning for (Benishek), I was working 50 to 60 hours a week,” he said. “That wasn’t too bad on a 10-credit load, but despite the fact that I’m not working this semester, having a full 16-credit load in addition to working on my own campaign has been difficult.”

However, Londo said he plans on finishing out this semester’s classes before becoming wholly absorbed in the responsibilities of his new position.

“I’m not doing anything (in the position) as of yet,” he said. “Finishing this semester is my number one priority, though. On a district level, we’re starting to work on our bylaws. We’ll get those finalized and then start getting the ball rolling on recruiting candidates and fundraising locally. Other than that, I’m just finishing school.”

After finishing his degree – which he hopes to complete by May 2014 — Londo is planning to move to Lansing or potentially Washington D.C. to further his political career.

“I’m not too sure, but after I graduate next year I’m thinking about putting law school on the back burner and heading to Lansing or to D.C. to see if I can develop a political career,” he said. “Otherwise, law school is a decent ‘golden parachute’ to have.”

Yet even with a somewhat established plan for post-college life, Londo said he is happy to be taking advantage of every opportunity that NMU has afforded him and continues to provide him.

“[NMU has] really allowed me to be presented with a wide variety of viewpoints,” Londo said. “I’m taking a class right now, Politics of Islamic Nations, which is something I admittedly know very little about, and it’s really interesting. Women in Politics with Dr. [Ruth] Watry is also a great class and it’s an issue that’s not discussed enough.”

The array of viewpoints and issues being discussed in NMU classrooms has, according to Londo, helped him become less concerned with partisanship and more concerned with the actual issues.

“Generally in my political discourse, I deal with strictly Republican issues and then opposing strictly Democrat issues,” he said. “That seems to be really counterproductive if you want to be a global or United States citizen that is well-versed in all the issues.”

Furthermore, Londo and other members of party organizations on campus assert that involvement in political organizations on campus prepare students for not only opportunities like Londo’s, but also for an array of other jobs in the political sphere.

“If you want to be involved in politics at all— whether you’re a Republican, Democrat or even Libertarian, whatever party you are — you have to go through these kind of things if you want to be involved professionally,” said NMU College Republicans President Justin Bis. “For example, our previous president (Sarah Morrison) is now the executive assistant to the president of the National Rifle Association, and we have all sorts of people working in [Washington] D.C. and in Benishek’s office.

“It’s incredibly important if you want to get involved in government to first get involved in your campus party because there are a lot of opportunities that we can unlock.”