By 10:00 tomorrow morning, the 80th session of ALA MGS will have come to a close. The dorms will be vacant, the hallways empty, and the classrooms silent. But today, Friday, June 17, we welcome the next generation of leadership to Girls State during our Inauguration. As we welcome our new Governor, it is vital to remember that she did not get here on her own. Behind every great leader is an even greater team, and that is whom we want to honor today. Before the Inauguration, it is our honor to recognize the girls who won’t be Governor.
The most important member of any campaign, after the candidate, is the campaign manager. Though she will never appear on a ballot, this girl is a leader in her own way. The campaign manager is her delegate’s ultimate advocate; delegating funds, shaping her candidate’s platform, and even recruiting girls not already involved in a campaign to be the grassroots supporters.
“She probably already had the idea, but we really pushed her,” says Brooke Taylor about her role as the campaign manager for Arthi Kondapaneni, both of Pershing City, Scott County. “We” here refers to the citizens who showed up to do their part for Arthi’s campaign, many of whom were Brooke’s friends. The girls see each other as a team, and run their campaign in the same way, supporting and bragging about each other.
Especially at Girls State, campaign managers are just as outgoing as the candidates they support. Libby-Kate Jones, campaign manager for Janson King, both of Drake City, Johnson County, approached several tables during her mealtimes in an attempt to promote her candidate. Miss Jones made it a point to emphasize her candidate’s platform, as well as getting the opinion of the voters she spoke to, including me. Giving up part of her meals to support her chosen candidate, Libby-Kate, shows the dedication it takes to be a campaign manager.
With so many exciting positions available to a Girls State delegate, it may be confusing as to why a girl would be willing to take on the responsibility of a campaign manager and not use her talents to run for an office of her own. These girls, however, are not lacking in ambition. Many, like Brooke Taylor, now one of the seven Justices of the MGS Supreme Court, set their eye on appointed state-level positions rather than elected, allowing them to devote even more of their time to their candidate’s campaign. Others, like Iris Heng, campaign manager for Zoey Walker, both of Anthony City, Truman County, emphasized the loyalty they felt for a friend, new or old, running for Governor. Miss Heng, said she was “not really interested in Governor, or any other state position,” but jumped into campaigning wholeheartedly when a childhood friend filed for Governor. “I knew she was coming here, but I didn’t even know if I was going to see her,” claimed Iris of her beginnings as Zoey’s campaign manager.
Even girls who had originally planned to run without a campaign manager have engaged their new friends in the task, or taken up the offers of girls who had volunteered. Emily Worthmore of Anthony City, Truman County approached me earlier in the week to inform me that she had gone from initially having no campaign managers to three who shared the task.
In a race where name recognition is everything, the campaign managers certainly seem to have done their jobs. Sidewalks outside of residence halls are covered with campaign Instagrams; both dining and residence halls are covered in posters, as are the supporters of the candidates. Miss Linda, Dean of Admissions and Manager of Headquarters at MGS, recalls a Treasurer candidate several years ago whose campaign manager served as “a walking billboard” for her candidate, from Tuesday to the inauguration Friday evening. The girl wore a sandwich board for her candidate everywhere she went, even while they gathered more materials for the campaign.
The first hurdle for the campaign managers is Wednesday night with the primary elections. In preparation, managers and their teams could be seen huddling with their candidates, preparing and rehearsing for speeches, which would get them on the ballot for the General election Thursday evening. Girls like these truly personify what it means when we say “Straighten each other’s crowns!”
Whether a girl acted as campaign manager on her own or was one of many who shared the task, she deserves just as much congratulation as the girl who stands on stage to be sworn in. To be a campaign manager is to have the intelligence, integrity, vision, and drive of a candidate, but to also have those rare and wonderful qualities that allow her to not only straighten another girl’s crown but to get other girls to do the same. Campaign managers of Missouri Girls State, when we stand tonight for our newly elected Governor, know that we stand just as much for you.