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Students Campaign on Three Successful Races Over Break

November 21st, 2011

By Carissa Davis.

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722
OfficeOfCommunications@phc.edu

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Jeremiah Lorrig (Government, '07), displaying a satisfying headline post-election season

In spite of looming term papers and projects, 20 PHC students led teams of high school students in campaigns for key Virginia Senate seats over fall break. One candidate, Bryce Reeves, won a seat in the 17th district by a mere 288 votes.

“If it wasn’t for every Generation Joshua and PHC student on that team, he wouldn’t have won,” said Jeremiah Lorrig, 2007 PHC grad and deputy director of Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) PAC. “He was very thankful to the team.”

PHC students worked with Generation Joshua to lead high school students from all over the country in the campaign process. GenJ sent six Student Action Teams (SATs) to key races in Virginia, one of the few states with off-year elections.

Out of the six races, three candidates won seats. Dick Black won a new Republican district in Loudoun County. Bill Stanley won a district in southern Virginia that was formed this year by integrating a Democrat and Republican district. Stanley, the incumbent Republican, defeated the incumbent Democrat.

“It was a million-dollar race,” Lorrig said.

 “Virginia is a key swing state in the 2012 presidential election, and the three swing counties of Virginia are Loudoun, Fairfax, and Prince William County,” said PHC junior Tony Cavicchi. “So one year ahead of the presidential election, the score in Virginia is tied at 1.5 to 1.5, which illustrates the importance of communicating to voters here in northern Virginia.”

Generation Joshua works on campaigns carefully selected by the HSLDA Political Action Committee. The candidates HSLDA PAC endorses are chosen based on their political positions and the probability of their win.

“We give the candidates a [political] questionnaire, and we only endorse those who score 100 percent, an A+,” Lorrig said. “The candidates we support are the tight races. We’re looking for a close race where 50 homeschooled kids can make a difference.”

Tony Cavicchi, PHC junior (center) and members of his student action team

The election tied the Virginia Senate 20-20 between Democrats and Republicans. With Republican Lt. Governor Bill Bolling to break the tie, the Senate is under Republican control.

“We needed to win three races, and that’s what the kids did. It was enough,” Lorrig said.

Approximately 125 high school students from as far away as Texas and California participated in this year’s SATs. They made a combined 85,000 voter contacts over the six races. 20,000 contacts were made on the Reeves campaign alone. With a win with a margin of 288 votes, Lorrig said, “you can see the numbers -- the students made a difference.”

Despite the time and effort it takes to campaign, Joe Cheatwood (senior) recommended the experience.

“I had the privilege of working with some great PHC students as my fellow Team Leaders, as well as a group of incredibly energetic and motivated teens and other volunteers, all with a common goal of getting a good man into office and the desire to learn about the campaigning process along the way,” he said.  “We also managed to have way too much fun hanging flyers on doors and waving signs at passing drivers. . . I'd say that was a well spent Fall Break!”

Lorrig participated in SATs every year while a student at PHC. He says that the time and energy he poured into SATs were “100% worth it.”

“It’s vital to have campaign experience on your resume,” he said. “I know at least two students who got White House internships, because their campaign experience from SATs gave them that edge.”

“At PHC we’re learning to be leaders. How to lead, feed people, motivate others, produce results -- all the things a leader needs are trained on SATs. It’s an invaluable experience.”