A proud moment of change

Ruth Brown

Ruth Brown

The inauguration of President Barack Obama, viewed by millions around the world Jan. 20, had a connection to SDSU. Alumnus Steve Hildebrand acted as the Deputy National Campaign Manager for Obama’s successful 2008 presidential campaign.

Hildebrand took a leave of absence from his political consulting firm, Hildebrand Tewes Consulting Inc., in Sioux Falls and worked at the Chicago headquarters on Obama’s campaign.

Hildebrand started working with Obama at the end of September 2006, and when Obama decided to start his campaign for presidency, he oversaw field and state strategies and helped with the overall campaign.

“We started the campaign in January 2007 with almost nothing and soon had about 1,000 people working on it and over $750 million in funding,” said Hildebrand.

For the SDSU alumnus, the most impactful moment in the campaign was when Obama won the South Carolina primary. It was the first state to vote with the largest number of African Americans.

“I look back on that and it was definitely one of my favorite moments during the campaign,” Hildebrand said.

According to the national polls, about half of the voters in the Jan. 26, 2008, South Carolina primary were African American, and four out of five of them voted for Obama. He took the state with 55 percent of the vote in a three-way race with Sen. Hillary Clinton, who received 27 percent of the vote, and John Edwards, who got 18 percent.

Hildebrand said that this was one of the most important and historical campaigns he has ever seen.

“I have been working in political campaigns for 20 years, and I always wanted to see more young people get involved in them,” he said. “During this campaign, young people’s support really made a difference.”

Hildebrand attended the inauguration on Jan. 20 at the west front steps of the U.S. Capital. He will also attend the swearing in, the parade and the presidential ball in Washington, D.C.

The South Dakota resident believes it will be an extremely important and inspirational moment for the country and its history.

After the inauguration, Hildebrand said he will not have a role in Obama’s administration. He plans to return to his consulting firm in Sioux Falls and said he chooses to continue living in South Dakota rather than pursue anything in Washington, D.C.

Hildebrand’s oversaw the Midwestern states for the Clinton-Gore re-elect campaign in 1996 and has other clients, including former Sen. Tom Daschle, Sen. Tim Johnson, Sen. Robert C. Byrd and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. His firm also deals with a lot of progressive issues such as climate change, gay rights and abortion.

#1.882055:155480879.jpg:A-Steve.jpg:A 20-year political veteran, Steve Hildebrand was excited about the amount of support from younger people during the past election.:Ethan Swanson