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The Penn College Republicans have already lost David Copley to the White House's Office of Political Affairs, and by May they will have lost College senior and current chairwoman Stephanie Steward as well -- another member who helped bring the group to its current status.

With Steward's connections in local politics and Copley's connections statewide and nationally, the College Republicans will have to work hard to maintain themselves as a dynamic and influential organization both regionally and on campus. After a strong buildup in both numbers and visibility on campus, the group will have to put forth significant effort to hold the interest of all of their members -- regardless of how passionate the next board is.

The College Republicans say that their group will remain strong.

"We're confident that the organization will continue to keep growing as quickly as it has been," said College junior Eric Rechtschaffen, who currently serves as president of the group.

Republican Ward Leader Matthew Wolfe said that the College Republicans have been able to maintain their current momentum even after the departure of College senior Daniel Gomez, who helped Steward and Copley strengthen the current group.

But Gomez was ousted from his leadership position early last year after a dispute with Copley over statewide leadership.

"Over time, you have stronger or weaker leaderships -- I think there's still a very strong core group in the organization," Wolfe said. "I'd be surprised if there are dramatic changes in the short run."

Gomez said it will be a challenge for the group to maintain its current momentum.

"On the one hand, [Copley] has built up this organization that's been very successful in getting lots of people involved in the process, but it's difficult to match it, to keep it going now that he's gone," Gomez said. "It'll be tough to keep the momentum going, but I have confidence in some of the leaders that Dave and I helped to recruit and to bring up."

Steward is similarly confident in the strength of the group's younger leadership.

"We've done so well with recruiting the younger members," Steward said. "Fortunately, this year we have a lot of really talented, really involved freshmen, sophomores and juniors, so I'm really excited to see who takes over."

The group, however, will have a difficult time finding anyone to replace the likes of Copley and Steward.

Copley's passion for politics led him to the position of chairman of the Pennsylvania Federation of College Republicans, where he worked for for the 2004 Bush campaign and became well-connected on the state and national level.

Steward's interest in Philadelphia politics manifested itself in much of the group's focus on local activities, which has characterized the current board.

"Stephanie leaving is definitely a blow," said College sophomore and College Republicans member Nicholas Miccarelli. "As far as grassroots and getting people out ... there's nobody better."

Steward's impact, like Copley's, extends beyond campus, and she will likely remain active in local politics.

"She's very well-followed in the local Republican party, so I really don't think she's going to stray too far," Miccarelli said. "I'm sure that she'll have no problem finding a strong position in the local party."

Whether positive or negative, change is inevitable for the group as it moves into the next year.

"The character ... of the College Republicans is going to change as board members change," Steward said.

It will be up to the next board to decide where the focus will lie within the group's basic agenda.

Wolfe said that Steward and Copley have done well to establish future success for the group.

"Dave and Stephanie were effective leaders because they allowed people with different ideas and with different interests in carrying through ideas to step into the leadership roles," Wolfe said. "They encouraged people who were interested in doing things to take leadership roles, and that's why the transition has been smooth over time."

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