The next leg of student body Presidential elections begins today, as Justin Hall and Gregory “Butters” Morgan vie for victory following a tight first round of voting last week, when Hall edged ahead of Morgan with a mere 72 votes.
The losing candidates have not shied away from the elections, however, as all of them are endorsing Morgan – and running mate SG Comptroller Thomas King – for the presidency.
Hall, the SG chief of staff, said his running mate LaNard Taylor’s, SG coordinator of Greek Life, strategy will focus on the issues during the final hours of campaigning.
“Our plans are basically to reach out to all students. We plan on being as visible as possible,” he said. “We want to make sure students realize this is not a popularity contest.”
Hall said he was also not put off by former candidates’ support of his opponent.
“Honestly, I think that when you look at campaigns, alliances are formed,” he said. Hall also said that the other tickets met and agreed to support the opposing candidate should he be in the run off, and that he was not invited to the discussion.
“As a candidate, I feel that the students spoke in the first election.”
Hall also said he had the support of several student body presidents around Florida, including the current and former student body presidents at the University of Central Florida, the student body president at Florida State University, and Garin Flowers, USF student body president.
“I’ve worked closely with all the tickets,” Flowers said. “They would be the best ticket because of the actions they’ve performed.” These actions, Flowers said, are extending the library hours during finals week of fall semester and advocating for more Greek parking.
Senate Pro-Tempore and former presidential candidate Nicole Randazzo – who ran with Sen. Ruth Damys on her ticket – agreed that the defeated candidates had met to discuss their endorsement of Morgan, who is director of student life and development for SG – for the runoff election.
She said she wouldn’t describe the agreement as an alliance, however.
“I don’t know if I would say it happened exactly like that,” she said.
Some candidates had become disgruntled with the Hall-Taylor campaign, as there were reports of “trash talking” and negative campaigning in student organizations – and allegations that a Hall-Taylor staffer had ripped Randazzo-Damys pamphlets, Randazzo said.
“Most of the people just seem to realize that Hall-Taylor were not playing fair,” she said.
Hall disagrees, and said his campaign has been conducted fairly.
“Basically, what I have to say to that is that our campaign has zero points against it,” he said, referring to the Student Government Election Rules Committee’s point-assessment system, which levies points against tickets who break regulations.
“Our campaign is clean,” Hall said.
Justin Bragan, who along with running mate Jonathan Dawson, was kicked out of the election for including a Pita Pit coupon on their campaign flier and not attributing it on their financial forms, a move the ERC said violated contribution rules, is supporting Morgan, said Dawson.
“They really supported us and our trial, the things that we were going through,” he said.
The former ticket also agrees with Morgan’s platform, Dawson said.
Senate President Nathan Davison and running mate Sen. Cordell Chavis, along with Sen. Ryan Iacovacci and running mate Sriram Madhusoodanan, are also putting their support behind Morgan.
Morgan said his strategy was to emphasize visibility on campus.
“We’re going to keep doing what we’ve been doing because it’s worked with us thus far,” he said.
Morgan also said his campaign was glad to have former candidates’ endorsements.
“These other tickets were all capable to hold the position (of president),” he said. “We’re honored to have them support us.”
Out of 5,165 votes cast in the election, Hall/Taylor won 1,344 ballots, Morgan/King, Jr. 1,272, Iacovacci/ Madhusoodanan 973, Davison/Chavis 830 and Randazzo/Damys 688. Voting will take place at the following ERC-sanctioned locations: CIS 1035, FAH 276B, SOC 279, BSN 2404, LIB 113, EDU 320, SCA 216 and ENB 118.
With additional reporting from Amy Mariani.