Political Conventions Take a Local Flavor Submitted: 03/20/2012
WAUSAU - We're more than five months away from the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, but local high schoolers are getting a head start with their own campaigns.

Kids Voting USA held its first-ever party conventions today in Wausau.

Candidates perfected their campaign speeches and brushed up on their parliamentary procedure for the Republican and Democratic Conventions at UW- Marathon County.

"I think they'll see with my charismatic personality and my confidence that I really am the right choice," says Madelaine Deveau, a Democratic presidential candidate from Merrill High School.

Twenty-one area schools, each taking the role of a different state, and more than 250 high school delegates converged on Wausau for the mock political conventions.

Despite a fractured political climate statewide, these students didn't hide their excitement to participate.

"I'm definitely going to talk, go around, see people's opinions, where they lie already, and I'm going to try to seek and obtain the nomination," says Ricky Taylor, a Republican presidential candidate from Merrill.

Even with an audience mostly too young to vote, the Executive Director of the state GOP and the Democrats' party chair arrived as keynote speakers.

"You're ready and willing to lead the next group of Republicans to take control of your future. It's activities like this that set you apart from your peers," Stephan Thompson, Executive Director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin told the GOP delegates.

"All too often we have a very cynical nature about politics, but I really do believe it's true that any one person (here) could go on and work for a campaign, could go on and run for office, and could end up making serious, progressive change," says Mike Tate, Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. "I think that's something that's not told to them enough."

The separate Republican and Democratic conventions each agreed on their own party platform and presidential nominee, just like the national conventions.

And despite today's era of cutthroat politics, these students are soaking it all up.

The two Merrill candidates, Deveau and Taylor, both locked up their party's presidential nomination.

Story By: Ben Meyer

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