Favorite Son - Page 6 of 8

Favorite Son

years ago and so I am very excited about his candidacy, very excited about the possibility that he will serve in the United States Senate.”

Rogers, who has known Obama and his wife, Michelle, for well over 10 years, says that as a state senator, Obama has been extremely effective in helping the black business community by providing strategic advice. “Whenever any of us had issues of concern or things that needed to be addressed, Barack has been very responsive. He basically gives people insight into how the government works. Having a peer—someone our own age—in government who can sit down and tell entrepreneurs how the state process works, how you work within it, and what buttons to push shows us the way. He’s shedding light on how the process really works.”

Obama has always been a strong advocate for small and minority-owned businesses. “[They] are crucial to the American economy,” he asserts. “An overwhelming number of jobs in our society have been created by small and minority-owned businesses. I’m proud to see more African Amer
icans generate the capital and the technical knowledge needed to start their own companies. They are taking ownership [of their destiny], and not just working for somebody else, [because owning your own business] is the recipe for long-term wealth and stability for any community.

“But more needs to be done,” he continues. “I see my role as helping to open doors that have previously been closed for small businesses across the country—black, white, Hispanic, or Asian. The more we can do to encourage assistance through the SBA and other organizations; the more we can promote exports in other countries. And the more we can incorporate technology into small and minority-owned businesses, the more successful we will be as a country.”

Obama says this initial core of financial contributors helped him establish credibility early on, and that allowed him to raise additional money. As of the end of the second quarter filings with the Federal Election Commission, Obama raised an astonishing $9.8 million with $3.3 million in cash toward his election bid, outpacing most of this year’s senatorial candidates.

And he has proven to be a shrewd money manager. During the primary, he held on to his money until the last few weeks and then he hit the airways with an impressive (and effective) television blitz. With seven candidates in the race, there was a bloc of undecided voters, and when people started to make up their minds in the last couple of weeks, Obama had a barrage of spots.

Born in Hawaii, Obama is the son of an African exchange student from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. He rarely saw his father, who left the family when Obama was 2 to attend Harvard and then later returned to his native Kenya, where he worked as a government economist. (At age 21, Obama learned that his father had died in a car accident.)

When Obama was 6, his mother married an Indonesian oil manager, and the