College students have long been speculated to be cynical and apathetic in the political world, but University of Rhode Island sophomore Ed Tarnowski is not falling into that stereotype. Over his past two years at URI, Tarnowski has been one of the most politically engaged students on campus. The Scituate native and double political science and business major started working on a future gubernatorial campaign, founded the URI chapter for College Republicans and just recently threw his hat in to be Chairman of the College Republican Federation of Rhode Island.
Tarnowski recalls how he first got interested in politics: during the 2008 election, where Barrack Obama defeated John McCain for the presidency. During this time Tarnowski learned a lot from his father that eventually led him to start getting involved in politics after the recent 2016 election.
Tarnowski began his political involvement working with former State Senate candidate Mike Smith for a special election in 2017. After losing to Democrat Dawn Euer, Tarnowski was offered to work as the Youth Outreach Director for Republican primary candidate Patricia Morgan, who is looking to unseat Rhode Island’s Democratic governor Gina Raimondo in 2018.
“More than half of Rhode Island’s college graduates move out of state following graduation,” Tarnowski said on one of the reasons for being involved in the campaign. “Having been born and raised in Rhode Island, it’s sad to see people I have grown up with feeling the need to leave in order to seek a successful career. This is not the way it’s supposed to be.”
Patricia Morgan is the Rhode Island House Minority Leader and also nicknamed “Rhode Island’s Iron Lady.” Tarnowski says the hope is to create an economy that incentivizes companies to come to Rhode Island that would create thousands of jobs for graduating college students.
“If anyone can get it done, it’s Rhode Island’s Iron Lady,” said Tarnowski.
In the meantime, he has reinvigorated the once dead College Republicans to a now fully Student Senate recognized organization. He hopes to bring people’s perception of what a Republican is back to original traditional values. College of Republicans seeks to, “promote the values of free market principles, limited government, freedom and equality of opportunity.”
“The main reason I started [College Republicans] was to promote the idea of what does it really mean to be a Republican,” Tarnowski said. “There are a lot of things I’ve heard Republicans called that simply weren’t true.”
Most recently Tarnowski has entered the race to become the next Chairman of the College Republican Federation of Rhode Island, which is the local chapter of the College Republican National Committee (CRNC), replacing Bana Hadid, the current chairwoman who will be stepping down. The CRNC acts as a central leadership that guides college Republicans across the country.
Currently, he remains unopposed, but the convention is not until April leaving room for potential challengers. He is running on a platform that will address the messaging of what a Republican is, as well as to promote and view the free exchange of ideas as vital for any learning environment.
“I would like to urge students to get involved in things they are passionate about,” Tarnowski said. “If I had never taken the leap to found the College Republicans, I would have never been introduced to the world of politics.”