GOP volunteer hopes to engage students

ElectionsPoliticsBill ClintonGeorge W. BushRepublican Party

One in a series of profiles of Maryland delegates to the Republican National Convention

She graduated in 1989 with a degree in political science, but politics never held Deb Rey's interest. Like most people coming out of college, she was mainly concerned with finding a job.

It wasn't until 11 years later, when George W. Bush won his first presidential election, that Rey got hooked (she was "ecstatic" to get rid of Bill Clinton). Now, the 45-year-old Air Force retiree from St. Mary's County is working to get high school students engaged in politics earlier than she was.

"You're not seeing a lot of young, young kids involved," said Rey, who has been visiting high schools to register students to vote. "First we get them registered and then we just start talking politics."

Though she is an ardent Republican, Rey said, she steers clear of partisanship at the events.

Rey said she hopes to head back to some of the classrooms she has visited to describe the experience she's had at the Republican National Convention as an alternate. As a volunteer for House of Delegates Minority Leader Anthony J. O'Donnell's congressional campaign, she's been more involved than most here.

Rey has been working to line up media interviews for O'Donnell — and has been relatively successful.

One day, Rey said, she'd like to run for office herself.

"I write my name on the chalkboard and say, 'Remember this name so you can vote for me,' " she says she tells the students.

But for now she said she's learning how the party and campaigns work. The convention, she said, has been an important part of that education.

"We at the peon level, the grass-roots level — and I'm not in charge of anything in the party — we should have an input in what our party is," Rey said. "We need to have a way to meet and to put our platform together and say, 'Yes, this is what our party believes.' "

john.fritze@baltsun.com

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ElectionsPoliticsBill ClintonGeorge W. BushRepublican Party
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