State News

College Democrats and Republicans participate in pre-election debate

The UW-Madison College Democrats and College Republicans organizations held their first debate of the year on Monday, discussing issues ahead of the next week’s election. 

As part of the Big Ten Voting Challenge, the Morgridge Center for Public Service hosted the debate to allow UW-Madison students to learn more about local issues affecting the state elections. Political science professor David Canon from the Elections Research Center moderated the debate.

The state’s health care system was one of the major topics both groups discussed. The College Democrats supported single-payer health care to consolidate unnecessary medical expenses, according to Adam Fearing, the group's data director.

Mike Kowalski, the political director of the College Republicans, said in response that Republican Senate candidate Leah Vukmir would give people “more freedom to make choices that suit them.” According to Kowalski, Vukmir’s new plan to replace Obamacare would cover pre-existing conditions.

Members also debated the popular election issue of K-12 education. Alesha Guenther, the communications director of College Republicans, highlighted governor Scott Walker’s “historic” budget that increased funding for K-12 schools but still had reservations about educational success.

“The state’s schools haven’t recovered from the austerity measures put in place by Walker,” Fearing countered. “The government needs to reevaluate funding because schools are the backbone in rural areas.”

When Foxconn was brought into the discussion, the panelists on both sides believed that their candidate would ensure environmental regulations within the deal.

“The company was not being measured for performance or informing the public," College Democrats political director David Pelikan said. "Instead of ending Foxconn, Evers would ensure it was following standards." 

However, Ryan Christens, recruitment director of the College Republicans said that Foxconn was being “held to even higher standards than most companies especially on environmental regulations.”

Other topics, like immigration, tax reform and abortion were also debated between the partisan student organizations.

In the College Republicans’ closing statement, Guenther encouraged students to listen “across the aisle” to develop a “mutual understanding.”

The audience was urged to go beyond voting and make their voices heard by calling senators and participating in peaceful protests. 

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