Matthew Normyle

Student Government Executive Alliance candidates

Student Government Executive Alliance candidates Braydon Jones, second from left, and Kimia Dargahi, far left, will compete against fellow candidates and Texas Travesty editors Xavier Rotnofsky, second from right, and Rohit Mandalapu, far right, in a runoff election next week as neither alliance received over 50 percent of the vote.

Photo Credit: Griffin Smith and Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

After a University-wide Student Government election in which no executive alliance ticket captured over 50 percent of the vote, candidates Braydon Jones and Kimia Dargahi will enter a runoff election against Xavier Rotnofsky and Rohit Mandalapu.

The Jones-Dargahi alliance received 46.34 percent of the student vote, and Rotnofsky-Mandalapu received 26.9 percent. The other two executive alliances on the ballot, David Maly and Steven Svatek and Baylor Morrison and Matthew Normyle, received a combined total of 26.74 percent. 

Student Government presidential candidates Xavier Rotnofsky and Braydon Jones walk into the election room, hand-in-hand. Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

“We’re not as nervous anymore,” Rotnofsky, associate editor at humor publication Texas Travesty, said. “Surprised, for sure. … I’m pretty sure this has been the most successful [Texas Travesty] campaign ever. Travesty alumns have reached out to us and said they loved the campaign. That’s been the best reward.”

The Texas Travesty, a humor publication, enters a team in SG elections each year. 

Jones, who has described himself as the candidate with the most Student Government experience, said he is optimistic about his team’s odds for the runoff election.

“Our numbers looked great the first time,” Jones said. “We’re going to do exactly what we’ve been doing.”

Nicholas Molina, Election Supervisory Board chair, said it was difficult to predict the results of the Executive Alliance race in advance. 

“I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a surprise,” Molina said. “[Both teams have] been campaigning so well.”

According to Molina, 9,108 votes were cast in the election, an increase of 14 percent in voter turnout over last spring.

Arjun Mocherla, an agent on Jones and Dargahi’s campaign, said the run-off will allow more time to get student input for their platform. 

“Obviously, we’d love to win [the election] straight out, but Xavier and Rohit are hilarious guys,” Mocherla said. “This is a great opportunity to continue to meet students on campus and see what students need.”  

Texas Travesty editor-in-chief Chris Gilman said he attributes Rotnofsky and Mandalapu’s success to reaching out to smaller and more diverse groups of students.

“I think they’re taking all the right moves,” Gilman said. “They’re talking to all the right people … and taking it day-by-day.”

Maly-Svatek received 1,161 votes, and Morrison-Normyle received 1,009. Morrison-Normyle said Sunday they were going to withdraw from the race, but, according to Molina, the duo never officially removed themselves from the ballot.

“I’ve heard two people say they were confused about why Baylor and Matthew were still on the ballot … that those thousand would have turned the election,” Molina said. “The correct answer for that, is that even though Baylor [Morrison] and Matthew [Normyle] expressed to [The Daily Texan] that they were dropping out, they never officially dropped out.”

Jones said Morrison-Normyle being on the ticket may have impacted the results.

“With Baylor and Matthew withdrawing and still being on the ballot, some people may have gotten confused and messed up the numbers,” Jones said.

Morrison said he does not think having his and Normyle’s name on the ballot affected the outcome of the election and said that he was pleased with the results.

“I don’t think it affected the vote,” Morrison said. “It’s the happiest I’ve ever been for fourth place.”

Maly congratulated the runoff teams and said he enjoyed campaigning for the election. 

“It was an interesting race and a good learning experience,” Maly said.

Jones-Dargahi and Rotnofsky-Mandalapu will be allowed to spend an additional $150 each on campaigning. The two teams will compete in the runoff election March 11–12. 

For a full list of election results, check out our infographic:

Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

Baylor Morrison and Matthew Normyle, who were running as a Student Government Executive Alliance team, said Sunday they are planning to withdraw from the election, though their names will still appear on the ballot.

Morrison, who was running for SG president, said he and Normyle, who was running for vice president, mutually decided to withdraw from the race because of the time commitment of campaigning. Morrison said he and Normyle learned valuable lessons from the time they spent in the campaign process.

“This whole election process has been a lot of fun and a crazy learning experience for Matthew and me,” Morrison said in a statement to The Daily Texan. “But in the course of the campaign, a lot of things fell to the way side, like schoolwork and other organizations we’re a part of. As great as it’s been, we’ve got to honor our existing commitments and admit we’ve stretched ourselves too thin … We wish all the candidates good luck with the rest of their campaigns and hope for a big turnout on Wednesday.”

Click here to view our interactive database of all campus-wide candidates and their platforms.

Election Supervisory Board Chair Nick Molina said the two have not yet sent an official letter of withdrawal from the race. If Morrison and Normyle send in a signed letter, they will then be officially out of the Executive Alliance race. Even if they formally withdraw, their names will still appear on the ballot, because Friday to have names removed, Molina said. 

“As of right now, they’re still in the race,” Molina said. 

If they hope to endorse another Executive Alliance, Morrison and Normyle cannot formally do so until they officially send their withdrawal to the Election Supervisory Board. 

Morrison and Normyle’s platform centered around a “Happy Campus Initiative,” which pushed for therapy puppies, more eco-friendly water bottle fillers and more live music on campus. Their platform also included expanding Freshman Leadership Organization and Camp Texas, as well as implementing a service project after Round Up, an annual weekend of music and festivities hosted by the Greek community.

Morrison and Normyle’s Facebook page, Baylor Matthew 2015, had 404 likes at the time of publication. In an online poll hosted by the Daily Texan Opinion section, Morrison and Normyle totaled 3 percent of the roughly 5,000 votes. 

Kimia Dargahi, who is running for vice president, said she is not sure how the withdrawal will affect the race. 

“I can’t predict how it’s going to affect the race,” Dargahi said. “I honestly did not know how they were doing and how they were campaigning. Social media, and even The Daily Texan poll, can be misleading at times.”

David Maly, who is running for president, said he is also unsure how the withdrawal will affect the race. 

“I thought they were good guys,” Maly said. “I don’t know how much support they had; I don’t know how it’s going to play out.”

For Executive Alliance candidates Xavier Rotnofsky and Rohit Mandalapu the withdrawal came out of left field. 

“It was a surprise, because we, Rohit and I, would cross paths with them at different speaking events, and they seemed very into the race,” Rotnofsky said. “It did come out of nowhere.”  

The three remaining executive alliances — Braydon Jones and Dargahi, Maly and Stephen Svatek, and Rotnofsky and Mandalapu — will participate in a debate The Daily Texan will host Monday at 7 p.m. in the Union Ballroom.

Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

Update: Since this story's original publication, Baylor Morrison and Matthew Normyle withdrew from the Executive Alliance election, citing competing time commitments. To read more about their decision, click here.

Campaigning began Wednesday morning for Student Government Executive Alliance, but the West Mall was void of flyers, yelling and promotional materials.

The candidates for president and vice president — Braydon Jones and Kimia Dargahi, David Maly and Stephen Svatek, Baylor Morrison and Matthew Normyle, and Xavier Rotnofsky and Rohit Mandalapu — have instead expressed a desire to gather student opinion and include more student groups in conversation during the initial stages of the election. 

Click here to view our interactive database of all campus-wide candidates and their platforms.

Jones, a government senior, and Dargahi, an international relations and global studies and Middle Eastern studies senior, said their platform will not be solidified until they sit down with students and hear what students want to be changed on campus. Jones, who currently serves as SG speaker of the assembly, said the campaign, called “Let’s Talk,” is focused on talking with students and not getting their names out just yet.  

“The big thing we want to do is listen,” Jones said. “We want to start a conversation, hear what students want and watch their platform become our platform.”

The duo’s platform points include working to strengthen tradition on campus, helping students “build bridges” for the future and increasing social advocacy and safety. 

Maly, an economics and journalism senior, and Svatek, a civil engineering junior, are focusing their campaign on transparency, which Maly said begins as early as the campaigning process.

“I feel like a lot of students don’t know how Student Government works, what it does, how to get involved [and] if they can get involved,” Maly said.

Their other platform points include easier transfers between colleges at the University, advocacy for lower tuition, easier transportation from Riverside to campus, and keeping the Perry-Castañeda Library open 24/7.

Rotnofsky, a Plan II and linguistics senior, and Mandalapu, a Plan II and economics senior — who are both involved in the satirical publication Texas Travesty — said their campaign will focus on reaching out to the smaller groups on campus. 

Their platform includes turning the UT Tower into premium student condominiums, promising that President William Powers Jr. will no longer be president by the end of the semester, and increasing transparency by mandating that all SG representatives wear cellophane instead of clothes. Mandalapu said the real point of the campaign is to make students realize that anyone can run for SG.

“We’re making a joke out of it, but we’re taking it very seriously,” Rotnofsky said. “We’re all about the campaign, and we’re all about Student Government. You have to love the thing you satirize.”

Morrison, an economics junior, and Normyle, an electrical engineering senior, said their campaign will focus more on spreading their names by word-of-mouth and social media. Both students are involved with Camp Texas.

“We’re funny, personal guys, [and] we’re lighthearted guys,” Morrison said. “We want to [make Student Government] more approachable, more accessible. Humor is something we’re going to use a lot in our campaign, but we’re in it to win it.”

Normyle said the campaign started as a joke, but now he said they are all in. Normyle said the team is going to use its “outsider” status to reach groups on campus.

The candidates will participate in a debate among their competitors March 2. Elections will take place March 4–5.

This article misstated the date of the debate and the dates of the election. It has since been updated.