Michael Tubbs ‘12, currently running to serve as a council member in his hometown of Stockton, Calif., after graduation, received a significant boost to his campaign when he became the third political candidate ever to receive a donation from renowned talk show host Oprah Winfrey.
Twenty-one-year-old Tubbs, a Democrat, is campaigning to oust 52-year-old Republican incumbent Dale Fritchen for the District 6 city council seat. Including the donation from Winfrey, Tubbs has raised over $30,000 fr
om over 225 donors, who have ranged from five-dollar donations to Winfrey’s $10,000 donation, according to Tubbs.
Fritchen’s most recent campaign financial disclosure states he has raised $36,372, according to Stockton’s The Record.
“It’s very encouraging to have someone like Oprah understand the need to re-invent Stockton, to go back and to bring Stanford resources and knowledge back home and really affect change,” Tubbs said. “I have a responsibility to use the resources and opportunities I’ve been given at Stanford back home in a place that really needs it.”
The other two campaigns to receive financial support from Winfrey were both successful: Cory Booker’s 2006 campaign for mayor of Newark, N.J., and Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign for U.S. President.
Tubbs said he is running for the seat because Stockton is currently facing major problems he wants to help address. According to Tubbs, the city broke its record for homicides last year and is on pace to break that record again this year.
Forbes magazine ranked Stockton seventh on its 2011 list of the most dangerous cities in the United States, and the city has been consistently near the top of those rankings for the last decade. The city has high rates of violent crime and low rates of education, in additional to significant financial woes and widespread foreclosures.
“All of these are issues, but I think they’re awesome opportunities to roll up my sleeves to get to work to bring great change,” Tubbs said.
Tubbs met Winfrey at a luncheon when she visited campus last month. Tubbs said Winfrey took immediate interest when someone at the luncheon mentioned his candidacy.
“She was really excited,” Tubbs said. “She kept coming back to Stockton asking, ‘Do you think you could win?’”
“Finally she asked, ‘Where can I send my check?’” he added.
Tubbs attributed Winfrey’s interest in his campaign to his passion for addressing the challenges facing the city.
“I think she’s more inspired by the fact that there wasn’t a lack of hope,” Tubbs said. “For all the stuff that’s happening [in Stockton], we can change it; we have to change it; we will change it. I think that’s very in line with her and her own personal story … and I think that’s really captivated her.”
Tubbs and Fritchen will face off in Stockton’s June 5 primary. Regardless of the outcome of that vote, the two will both advance to the general election on November 6.
Tubbs will be the first challenger to Fritchen’s seat since he took office in 2008.