Liberal philanthropist and potential political candidate Tom Steyer announced Wednesday the creation of a nationwide program to identify, train and recruit naturalized immigrants, DREAMERS and newly-arrived Puerto Ricans to run for political office in 2018.
Steyer’s NextGen America will team up with Latino Victory Fund on what is being called the American Dream Project. It will initially train 200 potential political candidates for Congress and statewide offices, ultimately recruiting 25 of those 200 to run for political office.
“We see immigration as a matter of public justice,” said Steyer, contrasting that attitude with the one that President Donald Trump has employed regarding immigrants. “Republicans want to tell us it’s about legality or borders, but for us, it’s about something far more basic. That we’re all American and human beings, deserving dignity and respect. Period.”
Noting that foreign-born Americans are 13 percent of the public but only one percent hold elected offices, Steyer said he is committing $250,000 to the American Dream Project.
There have been reports that there could be as many as 100,000 Puerto Ricans moving at least temporarily to Florida in the wake of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria.
Recently elected Miami-Dade state Sen. Annette Taddeo joined the conference call. A Colombian native, Taddeo said that a bevy of organizations, including the Latino Victory Fund, was crucial in her electoral success in the special election for the Senate District 40 seat last month.
“This support is vital for many candidates who, despite having qualities and experience to be a great leader, lack access to resources and support,” she said, lamenting how many potential leaders in immigrant communities don’t run for office because they don’t how or where to start.
“During my campaign, I met so many people who had not previously been engaged politically but actively supported me, because they saw themselves in my story,” Taddeo said. “Many of these immigrants are energized as never before, and we will need to act immediately to seize on that energy.”
Taddeo also applauded the fact that the American Dream Project will include Puerto Ricans in their outreach, saying with so many of them coming into Florida in particular, “we want to make sure that they have a voice in elected leadership.”
Steyer recently announced his goal to get Trump impeached. While many political analysts say that’s foolhardy with Republicans in control of Congress, the San Francisco-based environmentalist isn’t conceding anything. He announced earlier this week he’s collected more than a million signatures on his impeachment petition.