LAS VEGAS — If New York philanthropist and Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer wins his party’s nomination and goes on to defeat President Trump in November, proponents of D.C. statehood would have an advocate in the Oval Office.
“Tom is in full, unequivocal support of statehood for the District of Columbia,” said Johnnie Cordero, a Steyer surrogate and chair of the Democratic Black Caucus of South Carolina.
Tiffany Vaughn-Jones, Steyer’s communication director, said he signed the D.C. Statehood Pledge last year, affirming his support for the nation’s capital becoming America’s 51st state.
The pledge reads: “I pledge to support admitting Washington, D.C. into the Union as a state of the United States of America.”
For the first time in 25 years, the U.S. House of Representatives held a hearing on statehood in October, and the measure has garnered more support than ever before.
“As an aside, I would never support a candidate who opposed statehood for Washington, D.C.,” Cordero said.
Steyer sat down for an exclusive fireside chat at Las Vegas’ Four Seasons Hotel on Thursday, Feb. 19, with the Black Press of America.
The interview was livestreamed just one day after the Democratic debate and before the Nevada causes.
As president, Steyer said he also would pledge $125 billion over 10 years to continuously fund and fortify historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
During the interview, conducted by National Newspaper Publishers Association President and CEO Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., Steyer pledged to end the school-to-prison pipeline that has affected millions of minorities.
He also promised a living wage for workers, a 10 percent tax cut for everyone making under $250,000 a year, affordable health care for all Americans, and reparations for African Americans.
Steyer told Chavis that he’d fight to correct the wrongs done to African Americans and would use the power of the presidency to help the plight of the nation’s more than 64,000 missing Black women and girls.
“There is no policy area in America that I don’t think has a substantial, often unmentioned, but important aspect about race,” Steyer told Chavis.
Cordero said Steyer has a track record of tackling issues that are paramount to Black life.
“What I have said from the very beginning is that it is presumptuous to think, and certainly to say, that you have the Black vote in your pocket,” Cordero said. “I spoke with almost every candidate except Elizabeth Warren. Early on, I endorsed Tom Steyer, and what I said to him is what I said to all of the candidates. I told him if he wanted to reach the Black community in South Carolina, he needed a plan, and I laid out that plan.
“You can come in and kiss some babies and pat people on the head, shake hands and think all of a sudden you’re OK,” he said. “We know that nobody is going to walk into the White House and wave a magic wand and change things. What we’re interested in is the candidate who understands our issues, who has empathy. And we believe Tom Steyer has integrity and character and that he will fight for us and our issues when he becomes president.
“So when you talk to me about housing, criminal justice, or wages or education or climate, I think it’s absolutely unrealistic to talk about it without bringing up the racial aspect of it, specifically regarding the Black community,” Cordero said.