U.S. Senate race could be decided by college students

U.S. Senate race could be decided by college students

State Sen. Jeff Jackson (D) speaks to students in Star Quad at UNC Charlotte. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

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In front of a crowd of around 100 people in UNC Charlotte’s Star Quad, Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Jeff Jackson continued to test his electability theory

  • “The only way to win is by running as transparent and authentic campaign as possible. That’s our theory of electability here,” Jackson told Axios, after spending time speaking with nearly every attendee.

What’s happening: Jackson, who earlier this year visited all 100 counties in North Carolina, now is on a tour of colleges in his bid to become the Democratic nominee in the race to fill Richard Burr’s seat. UNC Charlotte was 12th in what he expects to be 20 campuses.

  • Jackson’s fellow Democratic front-runner, Cheri Beasley, was also on a college campus Monday, visiting Fayetteville State about two hours east of Charlotte as part of her “Conversations with Cheri” tour.

Why it matters: College students could play a significant role in the 2022 midterm elections.

  • They put up a record-breaking 66% turnout for the 2020 elections, according to Tufts University’s national study.

What they’re saying: “I came to find out more about Jeff Jackson’s climate infrastructure plans and his views on the current infrastructure bill that just getting signed today,” Charlotte senior Jeremy Goldsby told Axios.

  • Goldsby noticed heightened political awareness surrounding the 2020 election, which has since dropped off.
  • “In terms of a non [presidential] election year, ie this year, not much of a presence has been made,” Goldsby said.

Jackson, who spoke to 500 students at UNC Chapel Hill recently, says he hopes to change that by visiting schools months before the election, rather than as a final push in the weeks leading up to it.

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  • “One of the things we’re trying to do is reach out to schools, like our HBCUs early enough to change the nature of the engagement,” Jackson told Axios. “Usually when a campaign comes to a university, it’s about getting out the vote in the last 30 days. We wanted to do something a little more genuine than that. So let’s have our first trip be more than a year out.”

The state of play: Sen. Richard Burr will not run for reelection in 2022, a position Jackson announced he would pursue in January.

  • Jackson faces fellow Democratic candidates Beasley and Erica Smith. On the Republican side are Ted Budd, Mark Walker, former Charlotte mayor and North Carolina governor Pat McCrory and several others.

Save the dates: The statewide primary is March 8, and early voting runs Feb. 17 through March 5.

  • On Jan. 17, county boards of elections will begin mailing absentee ballots for the primary to eligible voters who submitted an absentee ballot request form. Requests must be made by March 1.
  • You must be registered to vote by Feb. 11 in order to vote in the primary.

    Jeff Jackson speaking with UNC Charlotte senior Jeremy Goldsby following his town hall. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

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