IU South Bend student finds success as campaign manager

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The most recent election marked a very important occasion for Drew Duncan’s budding career. The IU South Bend Public Relations major, in his senior year, worked as a campaign manager for candidate Joe Taylor, a Democrat who ultimately won his election to represent District 7 in the Indiana House of Representatives.

“Earlier this year, I was actually the field organizer for the Mel Hall campaign,” said Duncan. “Before that, I started a public relations and marketing firm, Prowics. Me and three other IUSB students decided we were going to do that.”

After working on two campaigns in the primaries, Duncan got the call for another candidate who was entering a tight race. Joe Taylor had won by 500 points, so knowing that there was a challenge to keep the small lead and gain ground, Duncan jumped at the opportunity.

“I’m up for the challenge, I never shy away from a challenge,” said Duncan.

That attitude helped carry Duncan and the campaign through to a victory, with a lead of 715 point votes.

Knocking on doors after class and work, from 5-8 p.m. every night, and working ten hours doing the same on the weekends, some might think Duncan would be ready for some rest.

After confirming Taylor’s win, which took overnight with St. Joe County’s challenges with new voting machines, Duncan recalls he sent a text to Taylor: “Congratulations, now it’s time to get back to work.”

Taylor reportedly responded “Hey kid, you never quit.”

Duncan brought his education from IU South Bend into all aspects of his work on the campaign. He was constantly getting feedback from workers and volunteers on the campaign to see where to improve.

“That’s something I learned as PR major, you have to poll. You have to poll and ask meaningful questions and not be afraid of the answers that get back to you,” he said.

Reaching out to mentors and finding every resource he could that was available to him, Duncan built on his education.

“Still being a student, anything you go into even after you graduate, school was nothing like this,” revealed Duncan. “There is always that sublevel of self-doubt.”

The tenacity that comes with managing and working on this campaign was matched with the candidate.

Duncan drew motivation from the fact that Taylor also is incredibly busy with his own life, working a full time job and being a father in addition to campaigning and being involved in the community. After he began canvassing, his initial fears began to melt away.

Duncan learned to be tenacious and unbreakable. His worst experience was being spit on while working on Mel Hall’s primary campaign, by a young, Republican woman. Beyond that, however, the worst thing that would happen is that the door would be shut to them when canvassing.

“Voters are not as polarized as the media tells us, we have so much more in common than we understand,” said Duncan. Sometimes it takes people with communication skills to give birth to the idea, the ‘R’ and ‘D’ doesn’t mean we’re enemies, it means we can meet in the middle.”

In the end, Duncan was “so excited and so humbled by that experience.”

Politics is his passion. Being local, Duncan hopes to continue working with IU South Bend students and groups, citing the American Democracy Project and League of Women Voters on campus doing nonpartisan work to educate students and community about the issues.

He hopes that more people will get involved, because Duncan feels that the population isn’t truly represented in the U.S. government.

“We have to have representation that looks like us, is the same age as us. We have people in in Congress who have been there for forty years,” he said. “Our generation keeps looking for our mythical political heroes that aren’t going to come. Congress is out of capes, it’s time for us to step up.”


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