Indiana State Director for the Ben Carson Campaign Carrie Petty shared her experience and advice with students in Eric Halverson’s COMM 431 Political Communication course.
Petty, who formerly worked as the executive director of the Indiana Republican Party, began her time with the class by emphasizing the importance of taking part in the political process.
“We have to fight for everything that we have in our life, especially if we care about certain issues,” she said. “I care deeply about the environment. And as a Republican, which is really crazy—I’m kind of a political mutt.”
Petty also used that as a teachable moment, saying that it shows “not all Republicans are sticks in the mud.”
Petty asked the students which candidate they supported. She asked if anyone was “Feeling the Bern.” When no students raised their hands for Bernie Sanders, she jokingly asked if they honestly did not like him, or if they were too afraid to admit it because she was a Republican.
Petty went on to discuss what her job involves. She said that her team is responsible for finding people in every Indiana county who support Carson’s campaign. Their next step is motivating the supporters to vote for him in the May 3 primary.
She also emphasized the need for good communication between her headquarters and the national headquarters based in Washington, D.C.
According to Petty, this is an unprecedented time in Indiana political history.
“We’re pretty purple right now [neither conservative nor liberal leaning],” she said. “Indiana could decide the vote, which really means your vote matters more.”
Petty said that this applied to any students voting in the primary as well.
“The Republican Party is divided—the people’s voices are truly being heard,” Petty said. “When I was the executive director for the Republican Party of Indiana, you could see ‘The Machine.’ There was a ‘machine,’ and it seemed a little fixed.”
The fracturing began when state Republicans decided to endorse Jeb Bush. According to Petty, he was invited to speak. Instead of talking about himself, Bush reportedly spent the entire evening talking about Donald Trump. Because of that, some state Republicans began looking to other candidates.
Petty ended her time with the class by reminding the students of the importance of getting involved and networking. To illustrate her belief in the importance of building professional connections, she told all of the students to start their own LinkedIn profile. She promised to connect with them all on the platform.
Senior communication and political science major Katy Sonksen was one of the students Petty spoke to.
“She was a doll,” Sonksen said. “I thought she was so insightful and really knew her stuff. She was able to convey it in a way that was captivating and colloquial.”
Senior political science and international relations major Rae Junard also enjoyed the guest.
“[She] was very informative and had a lot of respect for Ben Carson and his efforts in the Republican bid,” Junard said. “She came in with high energy and was excited to chat with us. I take pleasure in having that experience, considering we are a smaller class—she was very real with us.”