Northwest College Democrats hosted Sam Steyer, representing his father Tom Steyer’s campaign for president, Oct. 10 in the J.W. Jones Student Union living room, who visited to build awareness for and recruit students to work on his father’s campaign.
College Democrats Vice President junior Tyler Bears said the Steyer campaign reached out to them about coming to campus when the group met Sam Steyer at the College Democrats convention in Louisiana last month.
According to a New York Times profile, Tom Steyer is a Californian billionaire hedge fund manager polling under 1% nationally, but he is likely best known for being “the impeachment guy.”
Tom Steyer founded the group Need to Impeach in October 2017, according to the New York Times, which has funded TV ads calling for President Trump’s impeachment. The Need to Impeach petition gained a million signatures within 10 days of the first ad and has over eight million signatures.
“What started really as an online petition became a movement of over eight million people who felt disaffected and not represented by the actions of our president,” Sam Steyer said. “I’ve been very proud of my dad as I’ve watched the impeachment inquiry move through the House of Representatives over the last couple of weeks.”
After supporting clean air and clean energy ballot propositions in California, which passed, Sam Steyer said Tom Steyer retired from Farallon Capital in 2012 to focus on grassroots organizing full-time.
Tom Steyer founded NextGen America, which had a presence on 419 college campuses in 2018.
“NextGen America focused on increasing voter turnout, especially among young people, labor and communities of color,” Sam Steyer said. “I’m proud to say that in that time NextGen has registered over a million people to vote.”
Sam Steyer said growing up and watching his parents’ political work — from creating Beneficial State Bank, a community development bank, creating a regenerative farm and working on other political campaigns — made it a no-brainer to help his father’s campaign when he decided to run.
“It kind of made sense to me,” Sam Steyer said. “You know I’ve watched my parents really together fight for stuff that I think is really great for our country my whole life, so I was actually desperately hoping that my dad would enter the race, and I was so excited when he did. And he didn’t ask me, I called him and said, ‘You know this means I’m quitting my job, right?’”
An underdog who most didn’t know was in the race for the democratic nomination for president, Tom Steyer qualified for the Oct. 15 televised debate, which will be his first.
In order to qualify for the debate, candidates had to register at least 2% in four early state or national polls and acquire 130,000 unique donors, according to an NPR article.
Tom Steyer has also qualified for the November debate, which required candidates to register at least 3% in four early state or national polls or at least 5% in two polls conducted in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada or South Carolina as well as having at least 165,000 donors.
According to his website and Sam Steyer, Tom Steyer’s big issues are combating climate change and making structural reform to Congress to limit corporate and special interest group influences.
Tom Steyer also supports a wealth tax similar to Massachusetts Senator and candidate Elizabeth Warren.
According to the New York Daily News, Tom Steyer considers himself to be the Democratic Donald Trump, a businessman and political outsider looking to combat corruption in government, albeit with different methods.
“We think that in the general election taking on Donald Trump, who has portrayed what it means to be a businessman as taking advantage of other people, lying to people to get what you can, drawing a lot of attention to yourself on TV, and then basically running the country in the same way… we think that my dad is extremely well-positioned to attack him on what’s going to be his core issues for reelection,” Sam Steyer said.
Bears said the biggest issues he wanted to address with Sam Steyer were Tom Steyer’s plan to combat climate change and what he will do to get more name recognition and keep his campaign alive.
College Democrats President junior Spencer Owens said he wanted to bring Sam Steyer to campus to bring attention to the importance of the 2020 election.
“I felt that the event went superbly well, as we attracted nearly 60 Bearcat students to come here for a presidential campaign and hear what it’s like to run for president of the United States,” Owens said.
Junior Quentin Morris was among the attendees who asked the most questions, and he said he went to the event to support Owens, but also to listen and learn.
“Tom Steyer is an interesting case,” Morris said. “He is not a lifetime politician, but he has been involved in politics for a long time. With that being said, he and his campaign have been quite about a lot of issues and for me, a campaign should be policy-driven.