Our Students on the Campaign Trail- My Experience as a Delegate

November 1, 2016
Spencer Dirrig and Kelly Harrop at DNC

Our political science majors have been busy as ever participating in the 2016 presidential election. From attending the convention as delegates to interning on the campaign trail, our students are making an impact on the political process today. Two of our majors describe their experiences below.

Spencer Dirrig: From Powell, Ohio, Dirrig was a pledged Ohio District 12 Hillary Clinton delegate at the Democratic National Convention and is chair of the Hillary Clinton Caucus of Ohio State College Democrats.

1) How did you get to be involved as a delegate?

When the Ohio Democratic Party and the Delaware County Democratic Party asked me to run, I was honored.  I couldn’t imagine a more humbling experience than to serve as a representative of the party and the state I love.  I got involved in politics when I was 11 years old and made volunteer calls for Hillary’s first campaign.  I’ve always been a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton, a leader who has inspired me in so many ways and has guided my ambitions to be a public servant.  Together, Kelly Harrop and I reached out to friends, family, acquaintances and leaders in the area to ask for their support. I was, and am still, honored to have been elected as the first male Hillary delegate from Ohio’s 12th Congressional District.

2) What was the experience like for you? Anything particularly memorable or interesting?

As a bit of a political junkie, this was unquestionably one of the most incredible experiences of my life.  The experience, as a whole, was deeply humbling and energetic. I was frankly star struck by the incredible opportunities to meet so many of the leaders who have shaped and inspired my life. From Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights legend to Wendy Davis and Alison Lundergan Grimes, two passionate women fighting for Democratic causes in deep red states, to news personalities like Wolf Blitzer and Erin Burnette – the opportunity to have conversations with these incredible leaders in politics was unimaginable.  One of the most prominent and consistent experiences I had as a delegate came in the convention hall.  Standing with thousands upon thousands of Democrats from 50 states and every territory, from every racial and ethnic background and with every level of income was deeply humbling.  It showed that no matter our race, religion, ethnicity, or even our statehood, we are all Americans.  We are all Americans fighting for a better future for everyone. It’s an impactful insight to have – especially in this election.  I’d never been so proud to be a Democrat.  I’d never been so proud to be an American.

3) In what ways are you staying involved leading up to the election?

I am currently serving as the Deputy Campaign Manager for Cathy Johnson, a candidate for the Ohio Senate in District 16.  Cathy was a schoolteacher for 30 years who wants to go to the statehouse and pass legislation that helps, not hurts our teachers, students and schools.  I am also serving as the Chair of Buckeyes for Hillary, a group within College Democrats at Ohio State that is focused upon electing Hillary Clinton as our next president. 

4) What would you say to your peers who feel disillusioned by politics right now?

Politics is not the Olympics.  It doesn’t pop up every 4 years and then go away until the next Presidential election.  I know there are issues that you care about – but how do you take those beliefs and make them a reality?  The answer won’t come from the top of the ticket. If you want to see real change and truly make a difference for yourself and your community, get involved in local politics.  Whether it’s a school board, judgeship or congressional race you can have a real impact.  So, if you’re upset by the way politics works – change it.  If you think there’s too much money in politics – fight it.  If you believe your work won’t make a difference – I promise you, it will.  I’ve seen it.  I’ve lived it.  That’s why I am involved.  That’s why I work so hard to make a difference in every level of government.  If you’re disillusioned – go out, work hard and create the change you believe in.

Kelly Harrop: From Delaware, Ohio, Harrop was the first female Clinton delegate from the 12th Congressional District and is currently field director for State Representative Kristin Boggs.

1) How did you get to be involved as a delegate?

I got involved with being a delegate after I received an email from the Ohio Democratic Party Inviting me to apply to run for the position.  I have always believed in the power of young leadership and new ideas, so I figured I would give it a shot.  Spencer also decided to run, so we began organizing our campaign.  We called as many family and friends as possible to turn out to the caucus and vote.  In addition to that, we carefully planned a flyer to hand to perspective voters and the speeches we would give.  Once there we followed through and executed on our plan and were elected first-female and first-male Clinton Delegates.

2) What was the experience like for you? Anything particularly memorable or interesting?

The experience itself was so humbling. One of my most memorable moments was standing in line to get some food, CNN's Wolf Blitzer walked by.  I am so used to watching him on TV that to see him in person had me awe struck. Another favorite moment was when after the President's speech, Hillary walked out and surprised the audience and the entire crowd went wild.  To be a young woman and watch the glass ceiling crack in front of my own eyes still gives me goosebumps.  From such a young age we have been told we can be anything we want, however the elephant in the room is...there has never been a female President of the United States.  Regardless of your political ties, as Americans, we can all appreciate what a monumental moment this was for our history.

3) In what ways are you staying involved leading up to the election?

I am currently the Field Director for State Representative Kristin Boggs.  I am in charge of all volunteer and voter outreach efforts.  I enjoy getting out in the Columbus community to talk about not only Rep. Boggs' race but other important races happening in the state of Ohio like Ted Strickland's Senate Race, Zach Klein's Race for Franklin County Prosecutor, Kevin Boyce's Race for County Commissioner, and Danny O'Connor's race for County Recorder. Luckily, while knocking on doors we are able to talk about the race is most visible, the presidential election, and why remaining stronger together is important.

4) What would you say to your peers who feel disillusioned by politics right now?

I would say, the most impactful thing you can do if you want to see real change is to get out there and vote.  With student loans skyrocketing, attacks being made daily on women's health, more people dying from gun violence than at another other time in history, it is our responsibility to stand up and voice the need for action.  For the first time in history, our generation is predicted to be left in worse conditions than our parent's generation.  We cannot and will not be content with this prediction.  Although many people write millennials off, I believe we are one of the most compassionate generations on record.  We must realize, the best way we can share this compassion is to use the ballot box to our advantage--to change policies we are discontent with and to engage politicians at every level.