What Is Oprah’s Impact On Politics?

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oprah-winfrey-speaksBy Andrew Scot Bolsinger

Following an ongoing and increasing pattern of political activism that first played a crucial role in President Barack Obama’s primary campaign in 2008 against Hillary Clinton, Oprah has turned up the heat of speculation of her own political interests.

Though Oprah has never shown any public interest in becoming a candidate herself, her tremendous brand and influence always leaves that possibility open. But even more pronounced is Oprah’s checkbook backing critical candidates, especially as conservative billionaires like the Koch Brothers pour money into candidates of their choosing.

The Root’s political column suggests Oprah is making high-powered calculated moves of her own. Oprah’s moves have been far less audacious than the Koch Brothers but perhaps more significant.

“The question is whether she wants to make those points as a political candidate or as an influential partisan rainmaker,” the column states. “She didn’t stop with Obama, regularly cutting checks to state Democratic committees and the Democratic National Committee. She made a statement with a $10,000 check in 2012 to 21-year-old Stockton, Calif., City Council candidate and now Councilman Michael Tubbs, who is one of the nation’s youngest in that position.”

The article points out that last year Oprah backed Sen. Cory Booker’s successful run for the Senate.

“In 2014 she has injected herself into yet another campaign, this time on the House level for nonprofit exec Laverne Chatman, Virginia’s 8th Congressional District candidate. That may have locked up a win for Chatman in the crowded Democratic primary to replace retiring Rep. Jim Moran. It’s a particularly significant development in a northern-Virginia district that’s 17 percent black and represents the wave of demographic change in a former Confederate capital and battleground state, once reliably red but now electing Democrats statewide,” the Root stated.

Oprah entered the political fray back in 2008 when she backed Obama. Northwestern University’s Craig Garthwaite and the University of Maryland’s Timothy Moore concluded that Winfrey delivered more than a million votes for Obama in a race where he defeated Clinton by only 280,000.

Andrew Scot Bolsinger won more than two dozen press awards during his journalism career. He is a freelance writer, author and operates www.criminalu.co, which is focused on prison reform. He can reached at Andrew.Bolsinger@gmail.com