A Carnivorous Campaigner

Mary Katherine Boney, 5, and Hampton Boney, 7, inspect Zachariah Chou’s Inspire-themed dinosaur costume Tuesday outside of the The Hub. Chou, a 21-year-old UF political science junior, is Inspire Party’s presidential candidate for the 2019 UF Student Government elections. Inspire Party members also dressed up in a Pikachu outfit while campaigning. Chou said that the idea for the inflatable outfits came from the “‘Pokemon Go’ to the polls” statement that Hillary Clinton made during the 2016 presidential election. “We thought it would be a very positive way to increase voter turnout, and it’s definitely something different,” he said. “It all started with the Pikachu suit.”

 

A recipe for a 2019 UF Student Government campaign includes T-shirts, food and inflatable costumes.

Inspire Party and Impact Party spent nearly $16,000 for the UF Spring 2019 election. Both parties raised more than $17,000.

Impact, which won the executive ticket and two-thirds of the available Senate seats, spent $746.67 more than Inspire.

Ashley Grabowski, the Spring Inspire president and now Senate Minority Leader, said the difference in money spent shouldn’t be the focus but rather how that money was spent.

“If we don’t spend effectively, we will reach fewer people, turnout will suffer and we will not perform as well,” Grabowski said.

Inspire received $7,535.27 in donations this semester. In Spring 2018, the party raised $7,250.80.

Inspire’s presidential candidate, Zachariah Chou, donated $4,550 to the campaign.

“Because of my donation, we had the wiggle room to go above and beyond in some places,” Chou said.

Chou said he started saving for this campaign his freshman year through jobs as a photographer at the Bob Graham Center for Public Service, as a desk assistant at Infinity Hall and as a freelance photographer.

Inspire spent $29.94 more than it raised in donations this semester.

Grabowski said this extra money came from an in-kind donation, a charitable gift of goods and services rather than funds, of snacks which a supporter provided at their own expense.

Inspire spent the majority of its $7,565.21 expenses on T-shirts and Facebook advertising. It also spent money on feeding those who helped work on the campaign.

“We all know that a lot of students hate talking to tablers in Turlington or outside of the Reitz,” Grabowski said. “Facebook allows us to reach voters in a way that can be more comfortable and accessible.”

Impact spent $8,311.88 this Spring compared to $9,963.91 last Spring.

The majority of the money was spent on 1,000 T-shirts from Rad Wear, Inc., a Gainesville custom products and apparel store. Impact spent $4,611 on two short-sleeved designs and one long-sleeved design.

Impact raised $9,500 in donations and had about a $1,200 surplus by the end of the cycle. Michael Murphy, Student Body president-elect, donated $2,500.

Impact could not be reached for comment.

Hannah Beatty is a third-year journalism major and sociology minor from Jacksonville, Florida. She began at the Alligator in the fall of 2018 as a general assignment staff writer and now serves as the student government beat reporter.