BYU Student’s Father Running Against DeLay for Congress


    By Julie Espinosa

    It may not seem there”d be any reason for a Texas man running against Tom DeLay for Congress to come to Provo.

    But this politician is a BYU alumnus, with a son at BYU law school and a cadre of students involved in his campaign.

    With little more than a month left to primary elections, Tom Campbell”s campaign team is working hard to convince Texas”s 22nd district voters that Campbell will be a trustworthy representative—even from as far away as Provo.

    “He [DeLay] is taking the part a way I don”t think it should go,” said Jacob Reynolds, a law student. “Then I found out TJ”s dad was running. Why not support his dad?”

    Campbell”s son TJ started up a group of his friends called the “21 Club.” To be a member—there are ten or so— one must donate $21 to Campbell”s campaign and get 21 friends to do the same.

    “It”s a way for one person to make a big difference — to the tune of 21 dollars — by letting others know,” said TJ, a second-year law student. “Twenty-one dollars is not that big. It”s something you can feel comfortable asking people for.”

    In addition to their word-of-mouth promotion, the 21 Club is gearing up for a fundraiser Monday, Feb. 13, 2006, in Salt Lake. The reception is from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the law firm of Hatch, James and Dodge 10 W. 300 South, Suite 400. Student donations to the campaign have a 2-to-1 match up to $900.

    Helping with a political campaign is a new experience for most of the 21 Club students, but even the detail of whether drinks should be served at the reception is taken seriously.

    “It”s a political event,” said Jennifer Wheeler. “You have to have drinks. It”s a given.”

    Reynolds agreed. People like to hold glasses.

    Students bring what they can to the campaign. Grant Mann will be setting up a pledge table at his band”s next concert.

    Robin Lunt is the group”s liaison with media outlets. She said she”s encouraged by Campbell”s message and his reasons for running

    “He”s trying to bring integrity and civility back into politics,” said Lunt, a second-year law student. “That”s important given the recent slash and burn style of politics and all the scandals. It”s weird—I”m no Republican; I”m not a Democrat either.”

    Lunt and others said they are involved not because they are especially political, but because they want to be part of a grassroots effort.

    “He”s an attorney getting into politics because he thinks he can make a change,” she said. “It”s an opportunity to say yes we can engage and potentially change things.

    But it”s Campbell”s son TJ who has been the most active of BYU students. He helps fill out campaign questionnaires, send out fundraising invitations and is the person most in contact with the Sugar Land, Texas headquarters.

    “I wish I were there,” TJ said.

    The March 7, 2006 primary is open only to already registered Republicans.

    “There”s enough discontent among Republicans, especially students,” TJ said.

    “People should get behind us,” said Reynolds. “Campbell represents Utah really well. I think it”s really flattering for Utah to support a candidate when it”s such a national issue.”

    Campbell is running on a moderate reform ticket, touting his strong commitment to limited government, according to his Web site His campaign is focused right now on putting him on the ballot for the general elections.

    (For comments, e-mail Julie Espinosa at )

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