Kays, Kennedy win student body presidential primary in landslide

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Newcomers Jarrett Romine and AJ Davis have been considered the underdogs in the race for student body president and vice president since declaring their Student Governing Association candidacy. After yesterday’s primary election, they now know just how many votes they’ll have to make up to have a chance in the general elections on March 4-5.

Veteran student senators Reagan Kays and Cody Kennedy received 1,660 votes, 80.23 percent of ballots cast, compared to the 338 collected by Romine and Davis.

“Considering that we haven’t been able to do as much (in the campaign), it wasn’t all that surprising,” Romine said. “But, like I’ve said from the start, I don’t really want to be president. I don’t want to be treated any differently. I just want K-State to be a better place.”

Romine, sophomore in biology, and Davis, sophomore in finance, said they have no intention of altering their campaign strategies before the general election. According to Romine, the two are satisfied that they’ve been able to bring their ideas for K-State into the conversation.

“At least we’re getting them out there and getting people talking about them,” Romine said.

Even with their comfortable lead, Kays, senior in agribusiness, and Kennedy, junior in secondary education and mathematics, said they don’t plan on taking their eyes off the prize.

“We’ll be pedal to the metal all the way through to the end,” Kays said. “A lot more people vote in the general election, so we’re going to bring out some different things next week and try to get as many votes as we can.”

Kays and Kennedy started on their campaign trail on Feb. 1, building a sizable social media following within hours of their candidacy announcement. They’d been building momentum for nearly two weeks before Romine and Davis emerged to challenge them.

“It’s always hard to predict those vote totals, but we’re amazed and blessed for the support,” Kays said. “We’ve got a great team and advisory board and supporters, and we hope to get even more votes next week.”

The margin of victory is the largest since at least 2000, according to SGA records. Overall, voter turnout for this primary is down from recent years. Between Tuesday and Wednesday, 2,083 student votes were cast, compared with nearly 3,250 last year and more than 2,500 in 2012.

Speaker of the Student Senate Kyle Nuss, senior in architectural engineering, finished in second place in last year’s presidential election and said that after watching both campaigns, he wasn’t surprised at the results of the primary.

“Romine and Davis have some interesting platforms,” Nuss said. “But after being involved in SGA for years, you realize how unrealistic they are because SGA doesn’t really have any say in those areas. Kays and Kennedy really did their research and knew what they were getting into.”

After last year’s primary, Nuss and running mate Ariel Mendiola, senior in sociology, trailed behind the eventual winners Eli Schooley, senior in political science, and Jake Unruh, senior in finance, by less than 900 votes.

“We were really excited to make it past that first cut, but it’s tough to close a gap,” Nuss said. “It takes a lot of campaigning, especially with as wide a margin as Romine and Davis are dealing with.”

Nuss said if Romine and Davis want any shot at catching up to Kays and Kennedy, they’ll need to go after the independent and multicultural vote.

“From my observation, the greek vote got out tonight and it really shows where their allegiances lie,” Nuss said. “Experience and greek votes help in any election.”

Voting for the general election opens at noon on March 4 and closes at 6 p.m. the following day. The online ballot will decide the 2014-15 student body president and vice president, student senators, College Council positions, and members of the Union Governing Board and Board of Student Publications.

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