The Daily Texan guide to political organization endorsements on campus

Cassi Pollock

With Election Day just 46 days away, tension between the two main-party candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, has left the University’s politically active organizations questioning: Is it best to align with the party, support a third-party candidate or just forgo a public endorsement this election altogether?

Candidate-aligned organizations

Two candidate-aligned organizations, Students for Donald Trump and Students for Hillary Clinton, took to criticizing the other party’s nominee when asked why they were supporting their candidate.

“If you’re a Trump supporter, you don’t trust Hillary at all,” said Emily Hickey, Students for Donald Trump president.

Hickey said Clinton was “pretty much incompetent” when handling classified information, referring to the roughly 30,000 emails that were deleted from Clinton’s private email server during her tenure as secretary of state.

Sonia Woiton, president of Students for Hillary Clinton president, said Clinton had “literal and real” plans when compared to Trump’s platform, adding the female nominee had a record of getting things done.

“It’s pretty obvious why we are not supporting Donald Trump. His message is off-putting,” Woiton said, referring to Trump’s past controversial remarks toward women, Hispanics and Muslims. 

Party-aligned organizations

College Republicans officially endorsed Trump for president in a Facebook statement on Sept. 18, adding their endorsement didn’t come without reservations.

“We do so because of the necessity of having conservative justices on the Supreme Court and we are against the election of Hillary Clinton,” the statement said. 

Joseph Trahan, University Democrats communications director, said although the group hadn’t officially endorsed Clinton for president yet, members were “100 [percent] on board with her campaign,” and had been since Clinton formally accepted her party’s nomination for president.

Trahan said he anticipated his organization would officially endorse Clinton in the coming weeks.

Frustration with the two-party system

Frustration with the two-party system is one reason why some organizations are endorsing Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson or Green Party nominee Jill Stein, according to the groups’ presidents.

“The two-party system is clearly not working,” Adam Wagner, president of Youth for Johnson and Weld said. 

The International Socialist Organization, University Green Party and Students for Stein endorsed Stein, with all three organizations emphasizing the importance of supporting a third-party candidate.

“The primary reason we’re supporting her is the need for there to be an independent party in the United States,” ISO president Elizabeth Dean said.

Not endorsing

Young Conservatives of Texas is not endorsing a candidate anytime soon, according to the organization’s state chair, Vidal Castaneda.

“Some of us are leaning toward Johnson, some toward Trump,” Castaneda said. “We do have some members who are definitely part of that #NeverTrump movement. A lot of them do deflect over to Johnson.”

The organization endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) before the March 1 primary, a move based on the senator’s ability to exemplify YCT’s principles, Castaneda said.

Another organization previously supportive of Cruz, the University chapter of Austin Millennials for Ted Cruz, declined to offer an endorsement for another candidate.

“We endorsed Ted Cruz, we supported Ted Cruz, and that’s all we’ve said since the primary,” said Ashley Vaughan, Austin Millennials for Ted Cruz president.

Students for Bernie, another candidate-affiliated organization that backed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during the primaries, said it wasn’t endorsing a candidate this election either and will continue to advocate for Sanders’ platform. 

“There needs to be a mindfulness to 2016 as a whole,” Joseph Flores, the organization’s president, said. “There is a certain level of awareness that should be had with what I consider the danger of a Donald Trump presidency. Supporting Hillary Clinton shouldn’t come without conditions or critiques.”

Students for a Stateless Society, a pro-anarchy organization, also declined to support a candidate for president.

Young Americans for Liberty, Students for Concealed Carry and Texas Rising said they would not endorse a candidate this election cycle for their organization’s non-partisan position. 

Can’t endorse

Students for Rand and UT Students for Rubio no longer have an active presence on campus since their preferred candidates suspended their campaigns in February and March respectively, but in a statement to The Daily Texan, a spokesman for the latter said the group’s officers held different opinions on who to support for president. 

Has not decided

Students Against Campus Carry still remains undecided on a presidential endorsement, but said they typically align with the Democratic Party on gun safety and regulation.