While thinking about politics in high school, Amanda Klein, 20, discovered she identified best with the Republican Party’s ideals. She’s now the national committee chairwoman for the Nevada Federation of Young Republicans and a member of UNR’s College Republicans. She’s a junior at UNR, majoring in international business and planning on law school after graduation. Klein’s interest in politics was fueled by a stint as a volunteer on Assemblyman Greg Brower’s failed 2002 campaign against Sharron Angle for Nevada Assembly District 26. (The two incumbents were pitted against one another after northern Nevada lost assembly seats to Clark County during redistricting.) During the campaign, she worked at the law firm, Jones Vargas, where she hobnobbed with such Nevada heavyweights as Bill Raggio and Randolph Townsend. OK, she didn’t hobnob. But she passed lawmakers in the halls, stuffed envelopes and learned to use terms like “structured outreach.”
What activities do the Young Republicans do?
We have monthly meetings and fundraisers or social events with other Young Republicans. We volunteer at state fundraisers for Republicans. There’s a national Young Republicans convention coming to Las Vegas in 2005. I was part of the steering committee that got them to come to Vegas. We were competing with other cities.
How did you get involved in these student groups?
I saw an ad for a Young Republican meeting in the Reno Gazette-Journal. I knew I was interested in politics, in being a Republican, so I went to the meeting.
What is it about Republican values that appeals to you?
A lot of things. I agree [with the Republican position] on taxes. I’m conservative in a lot of ways. I’m not a huge partier. When I was 16 or 17, I looked at the different party viewpoints and identified more with the Republican Party.
What issues do you care about?
On a national level, terrorism and homeland security—that’s a general one that concerns everyone. In our state, the budget was a big issue.
What 2004 political races interest you?
The presidential one is the biggie. My mom, sister and I went to a Bush/Cheney 2004 organizational meeting with [Nevada Attorney General] Brian Sandoval and [U.S. Rep.] Jim Gibbons. They’re the co-chairs of the Bush/Cheney 2004 campaign [in Nevada]. A couple of people from Washington, D.C., were there. They ran down the organizational structure of the campaign and how we can be involved.
How can we be involved?
There are a bunch of coalitions. Religious coalitions and the youth coalition—that’s what I would be in. There’s a coalition to cover every voter.
Are college students generally interested in politics?
Not really. When I was chair of the Young Republicans, I worked hard to set up meetings and find speakers for meetings. I posted fliers and sent out e-mail. But it’s hard to get people to come. I invited Brian Sandoval and only about 10 people showed up. It was a little discouraging.
Why should students care about politics?
Politics govern our lives. We need to vote, need to talk about issues. This is our community. It’s our duty to vote.
Do you think you’ll ever run for office?
I don’t know. It sounds like a good thing to do. But right now, I see myself as a behind-the-scenes kind of person. I don’t know if I could put myself out there … but I wouldn’t rule it out.