Dayna Steele, the Democratic candidate for Texas Dist. 36, sat down and shared her thoughts with The Baytown Sun reader advisory board Wednesday.
Steele is running against Republican incumbent Congressman Brian Babin. Steele and Babin face off Nov. 6 with early voting starting Oct. 22.
The former KLOL disc jockey said she decided to run for the seat after starting a family giveaway of free laptops to needy high school students.
“I discovered there are a really lot of smart, brilliant kids below the poverty line that we are losing,” Steele said. “I felt at least we were taking care of these kids, so that is when it started to form that I needed to do more.”
The laptop giveaway, along with doing some lobbying on behalf of NASA for the Citizens for Space Exploration, led Steele to have a meeting with her husband and children.
Now Steele plans to win by keeping boots on the ground, handing out materials, attending as many events as possible and shaking every hand she can.
Getting advice from people who have won and lost was important to Steele. One of the first people she called was Wendy Davis, who ran against Gov. Greg Abbott in 2014.
“I think she was very surprised when I didn’t ask from an endorsement or money,” Steele said. “I just asked why did you lose. She said two things – She let the pundits and experts in Washington, D.C. hijack her message. And she didn’t put enough money in the field. I took that to heart.”
Steele now has 22 staff members now and a truck that works like a billboard. Her first foray into politics is seemingly having some degree of success. According to Molly O’Shaughnessy of EMC Research, a poll conducted of 400 likely November voters in the 36th District in August showed “when voters hear information about the race and the candidates, Steele and Babin are tied, 43 percent to 43 percent, in the race for Congress.”
On the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Steele said she would not have voted in favor of it.
“I feel like the entire country is being run for corporate interest, the wealthy,” she said. “We all need to pay your fair share. But if you give that big of a tax cut to these corporations, we are already seeing the effects of it. The deficit is exploding. We have no money to fix the infrastructure, one of the promises made. The poor are getting poorer, the wealth gap is getting greater.”
A strong immigration and border policy is on Steele’s list of things to accomplish.
“The solution is technology and humanity,” she said. “We have the technology to secure our borders.”
Steele said for Babin’s part of the border solution, he has co-sponsored a bill that gives whomever applies for asylum a one-year and one-day prison sentence. The bill, H.R. 6318, is an amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Steele does not feel Immigration and Customs Enforcement should be abolished, as some other Democrat candidates have suggested.
“It needs more oversight,” Steele said. “It needs to go back to what it was in the first place, protecting us from international terrorism, not throwing children into camps.”
Steele defeated former mayor of Lake Village Jon Powell with 77 percent of the vote in the March Democratic primary.
The challenger will have an uphill battle. Babin, who ran unopposed in the March GOP primary, represents a staunchly conservative electorate. In Chambers County alone Babin’s vote total was more than seven times the total of both Steele and her opponent in the primary, according to voting records.
Babin has represented the 36th District in the U.S. House since 2015.