Originally created 06/02/04

Student hits campaign trail on summer break

COVINGTON, Ga. - Like many students at the University of Georgia, Andrew Dill was eagerly awaiting the arrival of summer vacation for a chance to get out of the classroom.

But unlike some of his peers, the 20-year-old senior won't be spending much of his summer by the pool or in front of a television.

Instead, the Jacksonville, Fla., native is managing the campaign of a Republican candidate running for a Georgia House district in the far eastern suburbs of Atlanta.

He's also preparing to serve as a Georgia delegate to the Republican National Convention in New York in August.

Once that's out of the way, he plans to settle back into life at UGA, where he is president of the nation's largest College Republicans organization, with roughly 3,200 names on its e-mail list.

Not bad for a summer's worth of extra-curricular activities.

"It's an awesome, awesome experience," said Mr. Dill during a recent campaign event in downtown Covington, where he is working feverishly to help 32-year-old businessman Joe Sheehan win the July 20 Republican primary election. "It's really taught me a lot. I've learned what's wrong with our government."

Still, those who know Mr. Dill say he knew a good deal about the political world before 2004.

While growing up in St. Johns County, Fla., Mr. Dill became incredibly focused on government and public policy at a young age, said his mother, Debbie.

"We vote and we stay abreast of what's going on," said Debbie, of herself and her husband, David. "But we are not at the level Andrew is."

Before graduating from Bartram Trail High School in 2002, Mr. Dill helped found a local GOP organization for teenagers.

He then moved on to UGA, where he registered to vote in local elections and urges many other students to do the same.

"Most of their time is spent here," Mr. Dill said. "They should have a say in local government."

Despite his political involvement, Mr. Dill has also tended to his studies, pursuing a major in risk management and insurance, and a second degree in political science.

Mr. Sheehan said it was a no-brainer to select Mr. Dill as his campaign manager because of the young man's affinity for community involvement and his easygoing attitude.

"One of the reasons I hired him was because of his enthusiasm," Mr. Sheehan said. "I could see his dedication."

Mr. Dill said he has always felt at home with the Republican Party.

"It's the party of less taxes, less government and a strong military," he said.

However, he quickly points out that he would never vote for a candidate simply because there is an "R" behind the person's name.

"I'm a strong GOP advocate, but I wouldn't vote for a bad GOP candidate," Mr. Dill said.

Attending UGA has been useful for him because it has allowed him to experience other people's perspectives - including a few Democrats'.

"College makes you more open to both sides of an issue," Mr. Dill said, pointing out that he holds a tremendous amount of respect for some members of the opposite party, including former Democratic Gov. and retiring U.S. Sen. Zell Miller.

"He's always done what's right for Georgia," Mr. Dill said, referring to the maverick Mr. Miller, who has increasingly criticized his own party on the state and national levels in recent years.

Mr. Dill's mother says she always expected her son would end up in some type of leadership position, be it in law or politics.

As for having her son going to college more than 350 miles away from home, she says he is coping.

"He's really done well," Mrs. Dill said. "I think it was meant for him to be there."


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