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Saturday, April 19, 2008

In Philadelphia, a Democratic Student Group at Penn Bucks the Powers That Be

PHILADELPHIA — For a bunch of college students, they hang around with a pretty powerful crowd.

There is Gov. Edward G. Rendell, who likes to show up on campus and work with the University of Pennsylvania Democrats on political events.

And there is Mayor Michael Nutter, who has credited the campus political group with helping to lift him out of a crowded field of candidates in 2007.

And Representative Patrick J. Murphy, who was elected in 2006 as part of the new Democratic Congressional majority after members of the group traipsed to the suburbs to knock on doors for him.

But for this election the student group, known as the Penn Dems, finds itself out of synch with some of the biggest names in Pennsylvania Democratic politics. On March 5, the group, which has a list of 3,258 students, out of a student body of nearly 20,000, endorsed Senator Barack Obama in the state’s primary. Mr. Rendell and Mr. Nutter support Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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