PHILADELPHIA – The 19-year-old future Republican governor of Maryland went to the GOP convention in Philadelphia this week.
Patrick Duke is barely old enough to vote, but the rising junior at St. Mary’s College of Maryland already has his political future mapped out. Duke, who he says he has wanted to be governor since he was 4, plans to run for school board in 2002, for county commissioner or state delegate by 2006, and governor in 2010.
He was one of the seven Maryland college students who were in Philadelphia as pages, delegate aides, or youth representatives. They were among the more than 600 young people from all 50 states and the U.S. territories were scheduled to be at the convention, according to Catherine Pulley of the GOP’s Youth and Page Program.
Maryland’s Youth Team 2000 was started to give the GOP a youthful image, “recruit the leaders of tomorrow,” and “promote the Republican Party in the youth community,” said Todd Lamb, executive director of Youth Team 2000, and one of the delegate aides at the convention.
Lamb said the program, started by Maryland convention delegate Sandy Brock and delegation chairman Ellen Sauerbrey, rewards those young people who have made major contributions to the campaign over the eight months since the program’s inception. They are also looking for “selfless,” dedicated workers who will provide a benefit to delegates.
Brock said 75 percent of Youth 2000 participants “have never been involved in any political race before.” She said the program provided a “different kind of political experience for young people that gives them the opportunity to experience the cadence of an election.”
She said Youth 2000 was created for voters who may not be Democrat or Republican, but who want to support GOP presidential nominee George W. Bush.
In the last eight months, Youth Team 2000 – or UT2K as the kids call it – has participated in the first round of New Hampshire debates, conducted a youth rally in Baltimore and held a fund-raiser for Bush that featured the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels, Lamb said.
They have also made countless phone calls, waved signs and traveled to New Hampshire and Delaware to knock on doors and make more calls.
Potomac resident Amanda Makki, a student at the University of Maryland at College Park, has also been working hard since November. The fund-raising chair of the Maryland Federation of College Republicans said that $25,000 has been raised for Bush – “a big deal for (a) liberal state,” she said. The group started in November with $100, and raised its first money – $9,000 – from a fund raiser featuring Jack Kemp.
Makki, who has been a college Republican for four years, is spending the summer with the state press coordinator, recruiting the faithful to call radio talk shows and write letters to newspapers to increase the appearance of local support for Bush. After the convention, she expects to spend the rest of the summer working from Bush headquarters in Austin, Texas.
Makki’s future is not as planned out as Duke’s, but she has specific goals in mind. She said she has only one class left to graduate and hopes to go on to law school in the fall, eventually becoming a lobbyist on health care issues. If Bush wins, she hopes to have a position in the new administration.
Robert Adney, another page and the Chairman of the Maryland Federation of College Republicans, was heavily involved in campaigns in his hometown of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., but decided he should complete his degree before entering politics. The Greenbelt resident and College Park senior said he loves the area, and hopes to either become a politician or a political consultant when he graduates.
Duke, one of only three Republicans in a family dominated by “good ol’ boy Democrats” from Southern Maryland, said he is not concerned about being a Republican in a majority Democrat state. He has been working hard this year for the Bush campaign as well as several congressional campaigns in Maryland.
“We don’t grow complacent and somewhat arrogant like the Democrats,” Duke said. “We keep coming up with new and better ideas.”
Adney agreed. The “challenge makes it more fun,” he said of the party’s underdog status.