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Behind the Ballot: College Student Runs For State Office

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Behind the Ballot

(credit: CBS)

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – Andrew Ojeda is a junior at Macalester College in St. Paul, and he’s pulling all-nighters for a different reason this fall.

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“You’re groggy, maybe (had) two hours of sleep, then you have to go and door knock the rest of the day. It’s very time consuming, but it’s doing something good, I guess,” Ojeda said.

The 22 year old is running for the Minnesota House of Representatives as a Republican. He’s not your typical student at a school that came in fifth on Newsweek’s ranking of the most liberal colleges in the US.

“Students may or may not agree with a lot of the issues I stand for, but a lot of people do know who I am, a lot of people understand where I come from, and understand I’m a nice guy,” he said.

Ojeda is a California native. He originally came to Macalester to play football, but he has pursued political studies instead. Ojeda says it’s something he’s been interested in for a while.

“16 years old is when I started getting into party politics and learning how things work. Here at Macalester and here in Minnesota is when I decided to go full time with it,” he said.

Ojeda worked at the State Capitol last year, where he says his eyes were opened to the possibility that he could make a difference.

He faces an uphill battle in House District 64A, a heavily DFL district in St. Paul that is represented by Erin Murphy. And even though Murphy is trying to keep her seat in the legislature, she says she welcomes her young challenger.

“Our electoral process is stronger, and our democracy is stronger when all our voices are included,” Murphy said. “I welcome (Ojeda) to the race, and I’m grateful for the contest.”

Ojeda says he hopes his candidacy inspires other young people to get involved in their government.

“I would really hope so. I know one student, one person can make a huge difference,” he said.

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