A teary Gregory “Butters” Morgan and an equally emotional Thomas King shouted, jumped and hugged each other as their ticket’s victory in the student body presidential race was announced Wednesday night. Dozens of their supporters immediately surrounded them in the Phyllis P. Marshall Center basement, shouting and squeezing each other and the winners.
Morgan and King beat opponents Justin Hall and LaNard Taylor by 132 votes. A total of 3,946 students voted, and the Morgan-King ticket received 2,039 while the Hall-Taylor ticket received 1,907.
Taylor said the campaign was a “long, hard journey” and that maybe the presidency was not meant for him and Hall.
“It was still very close,” he said. “I’m proud of Justin.”
“A lot of people only heard one side of the story,” he said. “We tried to keep (our campaign) as clean as possible.”
He said he and Hall do not plan to file an appeal with the Election Rules Commission against the votes because he believes the number of votes received by each ticket is correct.
“The reason they voted is what we have a problem with,” Taylor said. “We think it’s unfortunate that they had to bash and slander our name. I hope it was worth it.”
All the candidates who did not make it into the run-off election publicly supported Morgan-King. At an earlier time, Nicole Randazzo – former candidate and SG Senate Pro Tempore – told the Oracle that the former candidates became dissatisfied with the Hall-Taylor campaign after reports of “trash talking” and the destruction of Randazzo-Damys fliers surfaced.
Hall could not be reached for comment.
Sukela “Sukie” Roberts, a junior majoring in elementary education and a Hall-Taylor supporter, said she was “hoping for something new.”
“They have a chemistry that would work for the Student Government and the student body,” she said. “Having to vote again hurt (them).”
Morgan said his victory feels “unreal” and that he’s grateful for the support he received from his advocates, and he is honored by the support of former opponents.
“I’m so thankful,” he said.
Morgan said it was a tough competition and that he was beyond nervous throughout his campaign.
He also said his work environment would be different from now on. As director of student life and development under the Executive Branch at Student Government, Hall is his superior as chief of staff.
“It’ll be difficult because Justin is my boss and LaNard is a close friend of mine,” he said.
Meghan Wilhelmsen, external affairs coordinator in SG marketing, said she could feel the tension in the office during the election and expects more to come. Her office is housed next to the Executive Branch.
“I have a feeling tensions may rise and people may quit,” she said. “We’ll still get our stuff done. It’ll just be a different environment.”
King, who is SG comptroller, said he feels “awesome” about being the next student body vice president and is excited for the opportunity.
“I’m happy we stuck to our values: honesty, integrity and hard work,” he said.
He said he and Morgan would stay committed to serving the students and acting as their advocates to the University administration and in Tallahassee.
“It’s about servant leadership,” King said. “It’s not about me. It’s about we.”
The Morgan-King platform outlines improved relationships with Student Affairs, increased campus safety and student involvement, additional support of student organizations and more fiscal responsibility in SG.
King said he hopes to restore students’ faith in SG and said that a larger voter turnout and more interest in SG from the student body would indicate such faith.
“I was discouraged throughout the campaign that students didn’t care,” he said.
Student body President Garin Flowers openly supported the Hall-Taylor ticket during the election but said he was not disappointed when they did not win.
“Both tickets are strong,” he said. “(Morgan and King) will do a pretty great job.”
Randazzo said she supported Morgan and King and was happy for them.
“I think they deserved it,” she said. “In the end, fairness won out.”
Former presidential candidate and SG Senate President Nathan Davison also publicly supported Morgan-King. He said their victory proved that “democracy worked.”
“These guys are going to do a great job,” he said. “We’re going to be able to make a positive difference.”
Ryan Iacovacci, SG senator and former presidential candidate, said that even though he supported the Morgan-King ticket, their victory does not solve the problems in SG.
“An election is not going to change anything,” he said. “A revolution is needed.”
Justin Bragan, who was kicked out of the presidential race for not reporting coupons on campaign fliers as contributions, said that Morgan and King were the most qualified candidates.
“They have the greatest potential in making Student Government what it needs to be,” he said.