Steve Young is an unabashedly liberal Democrat, a pledged delegate for Sen. Obama and a Congressional candidate in a conservative Orange County district. He is seeking to upset incumbent Rep. John Campbell. OffTheBus talked to him recently about the 2008 presidential race.
What drew you to support Sen. Obama?
I endorsed and supported Obama because he was organizing on the grassroots level in Orange County. I have been organizing precinct level, neighborhood volunteers for three years. Obama is the only presidential candidate that worked an organizing drive in my area. I was impressed. I looked at his stands on the issues, I heard him speak at the 2007 Democratic Convention in San Diego, I was convinced and endorsed him and worked for him.
What do you make of Obama's "50 state strategy," where he's allocating resources in every state, trying to win everywhere?
I don't think a Democratic presidential candidate can win without a grassroots level ground game for registration, neighborhood outreach, and a real Get Out the Vote strategy. Not only do I think Obama's strategy is beneficial for all the [down-ticket Democratic] candidates, I think it is essential. In my district because of all the grassroots work we have already done, and the organization we already have in place, the campaigns are mutually beneficial. The campaigns are reciprocal and build for each other.
How do you think the "50 state strategy" will help get Democratic Congressional Candidates, like yourself, elected?
The "50 state strategy" relies on local people organizing at the congressional district level. I am doing that. The strategy will help me. If a congressional candidate does not organize, Obama's national campaign will result in more voters in the district, because it is a presidential election, but that will not turn into victory for the Congressional candidate. Winning is a district-by-district challenge. Some will accept the challenge and benefit from the turnout Obama will bring. Others won't accept the challenge and will not benefit.
Is it a good year to be a Democrat, even in Orange County?
Yes. It is a great time to be Democrat. But your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness. All the experts predict a Democratic landslide. That's great, but if we take it for granted, if we don't work, if we think we have it in the bag, we will be sorely disappointed in November. We have to work harder, smarter, better, than our opponents. I don't want to see King George the III elected. Almost as bad would be for Obama to get the election, but not have the votes in Congress to pass his agenda. We need to end the Republican stranglehold on our legislation, or we will see Obama's great vision frustrated by a congress that can't pass his bills.