Young Republicans stick with Haseks

FAIRMONT – Women hold 99 of the 535 seats in the U.S. Congress.

In the House of Representatives, 60 of these women are Democrats and 19 are Republicans. Of the 20 women serving in the Senate, 16 are Democrats and four are Republicans.

Notice a pattern?

If the Hasek siblings and their colleagues get their way, more Republican women will be in office in the future.

This spring, Angie Hasek was elected chairwoman of the Minnesota College Republicans, succeeding her older brother, Andrew Hasek. The two are students at St. Thomas University, where Angie is a junior studying entrepreneurship while Andrew is graduating this spring with degrees in political science and economics.

The Haseks’ involvement in politics began as high-schoolers in Fairmont. Both were elected student body president their senior years. Both participated in the Minnesota House of Representatives’ High School Page Program, where they learned firsthand about the legislative process at the state level.

When Andrew decided to run for chairman of the Minnesota College Republicans, Angie supported him with his campaign. When he was elected, she served as his executive director.

“Andrew has been an inspiration to me,” Angie acknowledged. “I wanted to follow in his footsteps, and at same time do my own thing as well.”

Angie is the first woman since 2009 to be elected chair of the Minnesota College Republicans, and the first woman from St. Thomas to hold the title since the early 1990s.

“I would love to have more women in the Republican party,” Andrew said. “Everybody thinks we’re the party of old white males, and that’s definitely not the case, not anymore.”

Case in point: The majority of the board for the St. Thomas chapter of Minnesota College Republicans are females, and about half its members are female. Statewide, the majority of the chapter chairs are female.

Angie is excited to be part of the change in her party’s demographics.

“I love it,” she said. “I think I bring different things to the table. For instance, the way Andrew and I approach things is very different, but we both offer valuable perspectives. I think the same is true of having women involved at the state and national level as well. We need the female perspective and new ideas.”

As chair of the Minnesota College Republicans, her duties vary greatly. She will serve on a board with eight people from chapters throughout the state. Their primary focus is strategy planning and volunteer coordinating to assist Republicans running for office at local, state and national levels.

“We do a lot of work with the media,” Angie said, “and we need to figure out how to rebrand our image on campus, so that people want to be known as a Republican on a college campus.”

At St. Thomas, the student body is fairly moderate, politically speaking, though the same cannot be said for the faculty, according to the Haseks. As chairwoman of the state board, Angie will be traveling to more liberal campuses and trying to share with others her views on her party – what it was, what it is, and what it has the potential to become.

The Haseks acknowledge the party is currently dealing with a split, “especially between the younger and older generations, and also between the Libertarians and old-guard Republicans,” Andrew said.

“In the past, the Republican party was seen as the party of ‘no,’ the party of old white men who are closed-minded,” Angie said. “The most difficult thing is showing what we stand for, rather than what we stand against.

“We want opportunity and prosperity for all people, but it’s a matter of showing all those people how we will do that, rather than just talking about it.”

What her own future holds is still uncertain. Angie is considering different options when she graduates next year for applying entrepreneurial thinking and ideals, both in the business world and in the Republican Party. Running for political office is not something she envisions for herself, not anytime soon.

“If there’s one thing I’m not a huge fan of, it’s career politicans,” she said, “so that’s definitely something I don’t want to do, but someday, perhaps down the road, I would consider running for a term or two.”

For her brother, his passion for the party led to a position as the field director for Congressman Erik Paulsen, who currently represents Minnesota’s Third District.

“We want to make things better for those who would follow in our footsteps,” Angie said, “to do the best we can do, especially if it benefits other people.”