Why a suburban Midwest dad started a Draft Oprah 2020 PAC

PHOTO: AJ Stevens is seen in this undated photo.PlayAJ Stevens
WATCH Oprah Winfrey warns of social media fraud

In October 2017, A.J. Stevens, a 47 year old father from Baldwin City, Kansas, had an idea he wanted to run by his wife, Carrie.

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“You’re going to tell me I’m crazy. I’m thinking about starting a PAC for Oprah,” Stevens said he told his wife as they sat on the couch in their living room.

“I thought she was going to say I’m crazy,” Stevens told ABC News. “But she was like, ‘do it,’”

Next the two talked through how to file a Draft Oprah 2020 PAC through the FEC and build grassroots momentum — starting in their suburban, Midwest home 30 minutes outside Lawrence, Kansas — to get one of the biggest television personalities and celebrities, Oprah Winfrey, elected to the White House.

In recent months, Winfrey’s name circulated as a potential contender in the 2020 election. While she does not have political experience, the self-made billionaire has been a key player in Democratic fundraising and politics. On Sunday night, her acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes in Beverly Hills, California brought Hollywood to their feet and stirred speculation on social media that she could be publicly positioning herself for a political career.

Winfrey has not announced any formal run for office, although her longtime partner, Stedman Graham, told the Los Angeles Times “She would absolutely do it.”

“She’s just the right person at the right time,” Stevens told ABC News. “I was never a big fan of her but what she does is refreshing and it’s needed.”

Stevens recognizes that he’s not who you’d expect to run a Draft Oprah 2020 PAC.

He is not an Oprah superfan, and he never watched her eponymous show. A registered Republican who grew up in rural Indiana, Stevens coached lacrosse at at Dartmouth College and is now the current executive director for the Midland Railway Historical Association. He serves on his local Baldwin City Council and says he’s only been involved with politics at the grassroots level. He and his wife, an attorney who works in higher ed, have a 9-year-old son.

PHOTO: At the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards, Oprah Winfrey accepts the Cecil B. DeMille Award, Jan. 7, 2018, in Beverly Hills, Calif. Paul Drinkwater/NBC via AP
At the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards, Oprah Winfrey accepts the Cecil B. DeMille Award, Jan. 7, 2018, in Beverly Hills, Calif.

“I’ve talked to a few friends about it and they thought it was really silly,” Stevens said. But he thinks it’s the right time for Winfrey in the White House.

“I’m not looking at her TV personality,” he said. “She just brings sensibility and some common sense in terms of how things are done. I feel like there needs to be balance in life and I think she brings that.”

In October, he registered Draft Oprah 2020 with the FEC, created a website, www.OprahforPotus.org and made an @OprahforPOTUS Twitter handle. Stevens runs the website and Twitter account, which had 106 followers as of Monday, with his personal money, although he says he and his wife raised $10.

“Maybe we can raise more in the future for ads,” Stevens said. The website links to recent national news articles encouraging Winfrey's run for office and a recent poll that touts Winfrey as having an advantage over President Trump in a Midwest 2020 presidential poll.

Last night, Stevens said he watched Winfrey deliver a speech at the Golden Globes that some say catapulted her already famous name towards the top of the list for a run against President Donald Trump in the next election.

“Just look at her story — growing up and getting her first job in news, and she’s just been through some trials and tribulations and ended up coming out on the other side,” Stevens said. “That’s the American dream.”

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