This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Do Not Lose Focus of Your Local Races
Most news networks keep their eyes focused on national races because they are sexier and draw in more viewers. There are several reasons for this trend, national candidates are of interest to more people, the issues faced by national candidates cost more of the taxpayers’ money and the gaffs of the national candidates have a wider audience to lampoon them. However, society must also realize that local races are of great import when we are looking at how national races set up. For this reason, we are looking at Matt Zupon, who is running for a county Republican party seat in central Pennsylvania.
Matt Zupon is a student at Penn State Altoona and works for Staples in Altoona, Pennsylvania. He is a thoughtful young man, with family roots in the area and a deep love for his country. Matt is an example of the new conservative movement (not neo-con). He represents responsible fiscal policies and fluid traditional social policies, a message that speaks out to his generation quite well. As the post-millennial generation becomes more important in elections, Matt is an excellent example of how the pendulum of Left v. Right in the youth is swinging back towards a more “pro-America” position.
One of the most impressive things about the interview with this young man is when he was asked the question, “What are your three key issues?” he did not immediately dive into the “red meat” that so many candidates throw to voters to energize the base. Instead, Matt stated, “On the county party level, we do not set national policy — though we do contribute to the platform planks.”
The Issues, According to Zupon
He went on to say, “Because this is the case, I have three big issues. The first is attendance, some people do not take the roll of committee-person seriously and only show up to a few meetings. I have been at every meeting, making sure that we are implementing programs that benefit our candidates. Second, I have made voter contacts central to my position on the committee. In 2018, we contacted over 17,000 voters- this year we have already supposed 10,000 voters. Finally, the party should be guided by the people who make up the membership. Because I am a student, I have had the time to go door to door to talk to each voter in my district, to find out their concerns so that I can better represent them on the committee.”
When asked about party dynamics, Matt indicated we need to return to the “Big Tent” party mentality. “Too many people area getting caught up in identity politics,” he replied, “We need to look at voters as Americans. Stereotyping people as ‘Black’ or ‘Hispanic’ and expecting them to vote in a certain way is just wrong.” When pressed he explained, “targeting people based on their race isn’t the way to bring people into the party. Our values as a party speak to a wide cross-section of the population. Some values speak to some demographics and some values will speak to other demographics, but what I think makes the Republican party unique is that we do not have to all agree 100% on all the issues, we allow people to think for themselves. Heck, we want people to think for themselves.”
With fundraising being one of the most complicated issues for local parties this election cycle, Matt pointed to his experience working with campaigns in the past as a starting point for a fundraising program explaining “position tend to be what people donate for, they find a position and support a candidate that holds the same position as they do.” He continued, “Candidates at the local level have trouble getting the screen time that more famous candidates do. This is why we need to help them with social media campaigns to get their message out there. If we get out a strong message, people will donate to help their candidates.”
Zupon’s Views of the 2020 Election Cycle
To conclude the interview, Matt was challenged to come up with five issues that will define the party in this election cycle. Matt was up to the challenge. He stated, “We need to remind people that manufacturing is coming back to the United States. President Trump and the Republicans promised to bring back the jobs Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats said were never coming back and we delivered. Next, among the jobs that returned are natural resource jobs. These jobs are vital to the Pennsylvania economy, and Joe Biden has said on numerous occasions that he will take these jobs away again.”
“Pride in our jobs and our country is another thing that has returned during the Trump presidency. America had been attacked constantly by President Obama telling that they did not build that, America was not their achievement. President Trump has changed that message. He is telling America that we built this economy, we built these jobs, and even during the fear of a global pandemic we have a better economy than Obama/Biden ever dreamed of.” He continued, “A major part of this is that Donald Trump and the Republicans put America first, and this has been a shock to China and the rest of the world.”
Concluding, Matt noted the dichotomy of former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump. Matt stated, “Joe Biden was born in Pennsylvania and he left as soon as he was able. He didn’t choose Pennsylvania, but he did choose to leave us. Donald Trump on the other hand chose to come to Pennsylvania for six years to study. He chose to be here. The difference between Biden and Trump is that Trump wants to represent Pennsylvania for his whole term, Joe only cares about us during election years.”
This race in the sleepy city of Altoona is a hot race with three young candidates running for the committee seats (3 candidates for 2 seats). Matt knows the other candidates and says that the race is friendly. All of them believe that the people should be put first, and this should be the first rule of being a public representative.