On Monday at the Tim Cole Memorial Park, across from campus, Dan Epstein, visiting professor of political science, announced his candidacy for Texas’ 19th United States congressional district, a seat currently filled by Jodey Arrington.
With his wife, friends, team and students helping him, Epstein was able to convey his running points with an audience of students, citizens and press.
Epstein’s wife, Jasmine Epstein, a graduate student in the English department, opened up the floor by revealing Dan Epstein’s personal hopes and beliefs for the future of Lubbock.
Jasmine Epstein said Lyndon B. Johnson served as a focal point of inspiration in forming Dan Epstein’s goals.
“More than any other reason, Dan Epstein is running for Congress because he hears, in Johnson’s long ago uttered words, a direct call to serve the underserved and because he believes he can fight for those who are silent,” Jasmine Epstein said.
Afterward, Brent Never, a professor of public policy at the University of Missouri, spoke about Dan Epstein’s background and what has shaped the both of them to fight for what they believe on a national level.
“I grew up with Dan. He’s a guy who, in the best sort of way, just doesn’t care. Don’t get me wrong. He just wants to compete and to do what’s right,” Never said. “He’s not a guy who’s just trying to make money. He’s not a guy trying to climb some ladder. He’s a guy who’s pissed off about what’s going on in the world.”
Originally from Vermont, Dan Epstein had parents who strived to place him in the best schools early on, and he studied his way to Harvard, where he completed his Ph.D. in government. More recently, Dan Epstein said he was excited at the opportunity to volunteer alongside the Bernie Sanders campaign, gaining behind-the-scenes knowledge of how campaigns operate.
Dan Epstein said he was disappointed by the 2016 election results and that elections that occurred last year were overwhelmingly one-sided.
“If we looked at that ballot on Election Day, we saw there was no Democrat running for state legislature. There was no Democrat running for state senate,” Dan Epstein said. “There was no real choice. And no choice is no democracy. And no choice is not Texas.”
Dan Epstein recalled former President Barack Obama’s call for the American people to stay involved the day after the election, he said during his speech. This was when he realized he would run for a congressional seat.
“If not me, then who? If not now, then when? I felt called,” Dan Epstein said. “Somebody’s got to stand up and do this.”
Dan Epstein felt motivated after hearing counterintuitive messages stemming from the White House only weeks after the inauguration. The divisive policies he was hearing conflicted with his view of what the nation and state stand for, he said.
“This (was) not the Texas I’ve learned about. Texas is about everybody,” Dan Epstein said. “And that’s what I am running to stand up for. We need to have a government. We need to have officials. We need to have police and judges that treat everybody the same way regardless of the color of their skin, regardless of how you talk, regardless of anything.”
With equality and openness at the core of his campaign, Dan Epstein said he believes he can improve the quality of life for those in the district.
Despite running as a Democrat in a primarily Republican region, Dan Epstein said he finds encouragement in the power of community. His stances on Medicaid, infrastructure, tax rates and college debt are largely liberal, but he said he plans to always put the needs of the people first.
“Unlike Congressman Arrington, I’m going to have town halls. I’m going to listen to everybody’s concerns,” Dan Epstein said. “I’m willing to listen to anybody, but my commitment is to make a fair tax system.”
He will also host a roundtable at 6:30 p.m. April 20 in the Student Union Building Plaza Room for people to learn more about his campaign.