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Local Democrats host a meet and greet to help rally support for upcoming election year

People of all ages sit at round tables watching a speaker.
Jordan Uplinger / WPR
UW Students and Laramie Locals listen to Albany County Commissioner Pete Gosar speak

College Democrats at the University of Wyoming hosted a meet and greet with local party officials. Around 30 people attended the event, a combo of students and townspeople. This was the organization's first event since it’s a brand new club on campus.

“It's really important to have young people and college students engaged in their political processes, especially at the local level,” said Emma Jones, co-founder of the College Democrats. “And it’s really important, more than ever, for us to care about what happens in the place that we live.”

Local Democratic party officials and proponents spoke at the event, celebrating progressive wins and identifying policy positions for voters. Speakers included Albany County Democrat Chair Mike Selmer, Laramie City Council Member Erin O’Doherty, and chairman of the Johnson County Democratic Party Greg Hass. Hass encouraged students to continue their involvement in the Democratic party, citing young people as the reason for recent progressive wins.

“[We’ve had] four years without Donald Trump in office,” said Hass. “We've had, I believe, the first black female Supreme Court Justice. We have entire states saying, ‘You know what? Women should be able to choose their own health care.’ And that's all because of younger people getting involved.”

Protecting abortion rights, making reforms similar to that of the Laramie City Police Department, protecting voting rights and expanding healthcare access were all mentioned as goals for democratic voters. In a clear contrast from a recent Freedom Caucus and conservative college club meeting in the same room months prior, the College Democrats expressed much more fondness for government spending on public projects, like combating climate change.

“I'm here because I believe that government, if it has to exist, ought to do something good. Not to be a hindrance to people,” said Artemis Langford, state committeewoman with the Albany County Democrats. She laid out her vision of the Democratic party.

“We believe that everyone should have a right to health care, everyone deserves to have control over their own body. We believe that climate change is not only real, but it's having considerable impact on our planet.” said Langford.

Lucas Fraley, national committeeman for the Wyoming Democrats, brought up the importance of students registering as a Democrat for the primaries.

“The national convention is coming up in late August. Very big deal,” said Fraley. “[The nomination is] probably going to be Biden,but there's a bunch of other people on our ballot.”

President Biden went unmentioned for most of the meeting but then the College Democrats let a surprise speaker address the audience toward the end of the meeting.

“This is my formal public announcement that I'm running for President of the United States,” announced David M. Olscamp, a Democrat from Colorado. “I don't actually plan to be the candidate. What I'm trying to be is a ripple.”

Olscamp said he was afraid that Democrats may inadvertently lose to Trump if they continue with Biden as a candidate. Olscamp encouraged people to attend the caucus as Fraley did. The difference was in Olscamp’s call to check out “other people on the ballot,” himself included, just as Fraley mentioned early in the meeting.

“Everyone really needs to show up on April 13,” said David. “Wyoming can say we're not a red state where Democratic votes don't matter. We can be the voice of the nation to shape our future.”

In interviews after the event, most attendees voiced excitement for the upcoming election. Albany County Democratic Chair Mike Selmers said he believes this election is important, that a series of ultra-conservative bills rolled out by the state’s Freedom Caucus could turn voters in search of new candidates, and potentially yield seats for local and state Democrats.

“I think we will gain a couple house seats, I think we will gain a couple senate seats,” said Selmer. “It still isn’t enough to make very much of a difference at the legislator…so if we can get just get one more senate [seat], then we have that much more power to prevent bad bills from getting through the legislature.”

Jordan Uplinger was born in NJ but has traveled since 2013 for academic study and work in Oklahoma, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. He gained experience in a multitude of areas, including general aviation, video editing, and political science. In 2021, Jordan's travels brought him to find work with the Wyoming Conservation Corps as a member of Americorps. After a season with WCC, Jordan continued his Americorps service with the local non-profit, Feeding Laramie Valley. His deep interest in the national discourse on class, identity, American politics and the state of material conditions globally has led him to his current internship with Wyoming Public Radio and NPR.

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