Senior relates his campaign volunteer experience

de las Alas worked for Congressional candidate

Senior+Andrew+de+las+Alas+shows+off+his+campaign+T-shirt.+

Photo submitted

Senior Andrew de las Alas shows off his campaign T-shirt.

Tory Basile, Reporter

During the summer, many students muddled through a national quarantine by taking up new hobbies, sleeping in and scrolling through their social media feeds for hours on end.

Rather than fill his days with such activities, senior Andrew de las Alas decided to put his scrolling to good use — by seeking out involvement in local politics. de las Alas, who is a second degree black belt in karate, is co-captain of the speech and debate team, runs cross-country and is avidly dedicated to studying language and music, was searching for internships to hone one of his many interests when he stumbled across Democrat Christina Hale’s fifth district Congressional campaign. 

de las Alas said, “I was bored over quarantine and summer, so I was trying to think of a way that I could still occupy my time even though a lot of things were closed. I got the idea from looking for internships or something that I could do virtually. The idea of working for a campaign came up, so I went to (Hale’s) website. 

After giving the campaign his information, he soon became involved in the Christina Hale High School Fellowship Program, for which he acted as deputy team captain. 

de las Alas wasn’t the only Cathedral student involved. Sophomore Michael Cavosie was connected with the Hale fellowship through the school’s Young Democrats organization. Cavosie, who said he’s been politically active since his childhood and even acted as a page at the Statehouse for State Sen. Greg Taylor, said, “I think most people would agree that there’s something they’re unhappy with in their lives. Being interested in politics and volunteering with these campaigns and communities is the way to directly change and see that these issues are resolved.” 

We had a really big push to try to get people to vote early.”

— Senior Andrew de las Alas

de las Alas estimates he spent about 20  weeks involved in the program, during which he primarily “attended a lot of meetings,” he said, and worked phone banks, which he explained boiled down to “essentially calling voters and asking them if they would support Christina. Closer to election season, I’d tell them about absentee voting and mail in voting. We had a really big push to try to get people to vote early.”

Phone banking can be an especially tedious process; de las Alas estimates that of the 4,284 phone calls he made during his tenure with the program, only about 290 “expressed some kind of support” when prompted about Hale. 

Of course, this work was still invaluable. de las Alas noted, “From what I learned about the capacity of a field team, (canvassing) can shift an election about 2 to 8, maybe even 10%. Our program Get Out the Vote was definitely the largest in the Midwest, and one of the largest GOTV programs in the country. By election day, we were at the very top of FiveThirtyEight’s (a political poll analysis website) competitive election (list). So we branded ourselves aptly as the most competitive congressional race in the country.” 

Hale eventually lost her race to Republican opponent Victoria Spartz. “We thought it would be a really close race, and it was,” de las Alas said. “It comes down to demographics, and a lot of people vote Republican (in Indiana) just because that’s how they (always) have.” 

Despite Hale’s loss, she did retain a notable amount of support across parties. de las Alas said the policy he echoed the most support for “over my time on the campaign was her commitment to bipartisanship. Something that I would always make sure to tell voters was that Christina, as an Indiana representative on a local level, achieved bipartisan support on every single bill that she passed, or passed jointly. It’s something that a lot of people can relate to.”

de las Alas said he would be happy to remain active in politics. He became more invested in politics his sophomore year through speech and debate. He said, “I started in an event called international extemporaneous speaking. From much more of an observer angle, because it was international, I started to think more about politics and more about the implications that certain policies can make. It especially coincided because it was the year of midterms and there was a lot happening on the homefront.” 

Furthermore, he has applied to several colleges including Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies. He intends, he said, to “study international affairs, because it’s a super interdisciplinary thing where you study politics, economics, culture. And for me especially, that cultural aspect usually translates to language, and that really adds a lot.”

When asked if he’d consider running for office, he said his answer was an “obvious yes” but he’s aware that “it’s really hard.” He said, “I might be interested in running as a local rep, not necessarily out of college, almost more when I’m in my 50s or something. It means that (I’d) have a fair amount of time” to gain experience.

Ultimately, de las Alas stressed the importance for people to get involved in government at a local level. “Your local policies are the ones that are going to affect you. Civic participation is important. I think they call jury duty your civic duty, but voting is, too, especially if you feel concerned with an issue. This year it’s easy, but in the future, even if you’re kind of apathetic, you should still look into your candidates. 

“You might feel like your vote doesn’t matter on the national stage, but it definitely does on the local stage.”