Emory U. Faculty Gifts Favor Obama

This story was written by Tiffany Han, Emory Wheel
If an Emory University faculty member had to pick a presidential candidate to endorse, chances are Sen. Barack Obama would win his or her vote, according to records of campaign contributions.

The data, reported by The Huffington Post and obtained from public records filed with the Federal Election Commission, shows that 83.47 percent of campaign contributions by people who identified Emory as their employer went toward a Democratic candidate or the Democratic National Convention. Sen. Barack Obama received more of these contributions than any other candidate.

Assistant Director of Internships Christopher Long, who contributed $2,275 to Obama's campaign, said he believes this is a Democratic year.

"I think people want to feel proud of their country again, and the Republican brand is too damaged right now," he said, adding that the war, the economy and rising gas prices have been sources of concern for many.

Long said Obama gave him hope that the country could overcome the "spiteful and just plain ugly" politics that have prevailed over the past 16 years.

As an administrator who works with college kids all day, Long said, Obama's focus on the youth of the country also spoke to him.

In addition to making financial contributions, Long worked in phone banking for Obama's campaign before the Georgia primary. If time permitted, he said, he would like to knock on doors in North Carolina.

A 2002 graduate from Emory College and a former member of the College Republicans, Long said he changed over to the Democratic side after President George W. Bush took office.

From looking at bumper stickers on cars parked in Peavine Parking Deck and talking with colleagues, Long said he believes Obama is the popular choice on campus.

"In recent times, people are more than ever open to having their minds changed," he said.

Journalism professor Sissel McCarthy wrote in an e-mail to the Wheel that she supports Obama because she believes he can unite this country and bridge the divide between people and states in terms of politics, race and other social issues.

"The ability to unite and quite frankly inspire people has been missing in Washington for a long time," she wrote. "Having a true leader who is open-minded to opposing ideas is the only way we will get anything done in this country."

Senior Vice President and General Counsel Kent Alexander donated $2,300 to Clinton's campaign in 2007 but later contributed an equal amount to Obama in 2008. Because of his role in supporting government affairs at Emory, he declined to comment on the election.

Andrea Hershatter, associate dean of the Goizueta Business School, said she supports Obama even though she believes Clinton is a "brilliant" candidate. "It is time for the United States to have a woman in the White House," she said. "But there is no question in my mind that Obama is the better candidate."

She said she was inspired by Obama's 2004 DNC speech and was "blown away" by his speech on race in March, adding that she even has an autographed copy of the speech on race.

"Not only do I believe in the vast majority of his policies, but I also think he brings an energy and a way of representing us as a country to the world that is badly needed," she said.

She said she was "among the most left-leaning people in the business school" and joked that her support of Obama is not necessarily based on what the finance faculty would say is "sound economic reasoning."

In an e-mail to the Wheel, professor of film studies Matthew Bernstein, who donated $2,275 to Obama's campaign in 2008 and $25,000 to the DNC in 2004, wrote that he believes Obama and his message of hope represent what the country needs to move forard.

"His on-the-ground experience in community organizing and politics give him a fundamental understanding of people's lives, something our current president has never had and never will have," he wrote. He added that he believes Obama is the best candidate to help the country recover from the "profound, multifaceted, and incredibly extensive damage" the Bush administration has caused, and that Sen. John McCain would only be "more of the same."

Bernstein said he has the "utmost respect" for Clinton and would support her if she won the Democratic nomination, but does not believe she could win the election.

Assistant Professor of Accounting William Tayler donated $2,275 to former Republican candidate Mitt Romney's campaign but is now tentatively supporting McCain. Tayler said he would be 100 percent behind McCain if Romney were to run with him as vice president but has some reservations about McCain's tendency to use "curveball" tactics despite claiming to be a "straight shooter" candidate. McCain also comes across as a candidate who would be more likely to use military force overseas without as much extensive negotiation first, he said.

"I would vote for McCain, but I'm not going to put a sign in my yard," he said. He said Romney's stance on requiring health care without government intervention -- the market would drive prices down if everyone were required to purchase health insurance -- initially drew his support. But he said he also believes Romney would be able to adopt a business-man attitude to purge the government of unnecessary and ineffective programs.

Tayler said that though he does not agree with Obama's methodology, he believes Obama is honest in his desire to do good.

"For him, it's not a power game," he said. Clinton's motives are more questionable, he added.

"I think this is a historic election. No matter who is elected president, it'll be someone who has a very unique background," he said. "No matter how you slice it, it'll be interesting to watch, and it'll be an impactful and important election."
© 2008 Emory Wheel via U-WIRE