A crash course in politics; Ely’s Anna Urbas volunteers for victorious Stauber campaign

ELY’S Anna Urbas worked to help get Pete Stauber elected to Congress.

by Tom Coombe -

Just about a year ago, Ely’s Anna Urbas dipped her toes into the political waters.
By summer, the 19-year-old had taken the plunge and in November she was basking in victory, celebrating with northern Minnesota Republicans when Pete Stauber won the U.S. House race in Minnesota’s Eighth District.
Urbas, an elementary education major who recently wrapped up the fall semester at St. Scholastica, added real-life politics to her college experience by volunteering for the Stauber campaign.
On Election Night, Urbas was with Stauber and other Republicans in Proctor for the victory celebration.
“Seeing him win that night was awesome,” said Urbas, a 2017 graduate of Ely Memorial High School. “Knowing that I helped, even in just a small way, felt good. And it felt good to show people this is what I believe in.”
The path to Stauber’s victory party was a long one, and for Urbas it began with a visit to a College Republicans meeting at the neighboring University of Minnesota-Duluth.
“I always kind of liked politics,” said Urbas. “And I was pushed by some friends to join the Republican group.”
Drawn by the party’s positions, particularly its pro-life plank and stance on mining, Urbas soon found herself joining other young Republicans working on phone banks and knocking on doors for Stauber.
The activity ramped up in late summer and into the fall, as most of Urbas’ Saturdays were taken up with campaign activities.
“Being in this group has given me so many opportunities,” said Urbas.
One particular highlight was a fall trip to Grand Rapids where Urbas joined Stauber as well as U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer in stumping for votes and taking part in a meet-and-greet event at a local restaurant.
Later in the campaign, Urbas was on the scene when Stauber and other Republicans, including U.S. Senate candidate Karin Housley, toured the PolyMet facilities at Hoyt Lakes.
Urbas said she believes the district is getting a genuine advocate in Stauber, a former police officer and small business owner who most recently served on the St. Louis County Board.
“I think he was the best candidate because he is so down to earth,” said Urbas. “I met Pete and I know when he goes in there he is going to be bipartisan and say what he believes. He is a down-to-earth, nice guy and I think he’ll get things done for us in the Eighth.”
Since joining the College Republicans, Urbas has also played other roles within the party.
She was a volunteer in Duluth in June, guiding party VIPs backstage at a Stauber campaign rally featuring President Trump.
Twice in the last year, Urbas has met Vice President Pence, including at a fall rally in the Twin Cities.
The campaign work drew Urbas into politics, and it continues to have a grip.
Later this winter, Urbas will join other College Republicans in Washington, D.C. at the Conservative Political Action Conference, an event featuring Trump, Pence and conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham.
As for the future, Urbas concedes it could one day include her own run for political office.
“Actually I have thought about it,” she said. “There’s a little part of me that wants to go into political science. But you really don’t have to do that to run for something.”
The experience has also left a lasting impression on Urbas, as she has dealt - up close and personal - with the partisan divide that shapes the nation’s current political climate.
“I live with somebody who is very liberal and sometimes it’s hard because we’re polar opposites on things,” said Urbas. “Sometimes it’s fun to talk about things and we’ve come to an agreement that we’re not going to change each others’ minds.”
Despite the differences, Urbas said she convinced her roommate to vote in November.
“I don’t care if you’re a Democrat or an independent, you should vote, that’s your voice” she said.
Urbas said she also encourages younger voters to keep an open mind and listen to opposing viewpoints, citing her own visit to a College Democrats meeting.
“I think the best thing you can do as a college student, if you don’t know what you are is to go out and see what topics you lean toward, whether it’s Republican, Democrat or in the middle.”