Steve Bannon Got His Political Start at Virginia Tech

Platitudes, Promises, and Slogans

Steve Bannon graduated from Benedictine College Prepartoy School in 1972, an all boys, military school located in Richmond, VA. He then started pursuing a degree in Urban Affairs from Virginia Tech (Then called Virginia Polytechnic Institute).

It was here that he received his first exposure to politics. In 1975 he ran for President of the Student Government Association (SGA). He selected as his running mate a woman, Susan Oliver, a notable gesture at a time when most campus leadership positions were occupied by men.

The SGA electoral campaign was noted for being particularly contentious with Bannon and his main competitor, Marshall DeBerry, engaging in various forms of slander.

The contentions began when Bannon posted flyers around the college campus claiming that DeBerry offered “…Platitudes, Promises, and Slogans…” and portrayed him as being out of touch with the student body.

Bannon’s brash rhetoric provoked a retaliation from DeBerry’s main supporter. According to an April 1975 “Collegiate Times” article, the outgoing SGA president, Gary Clisham, broke Virginia Tech precedent by denouncing Bannon’s candidacy and issuing an endorsement of Marshall DeBerry. In a written statement to the Collegiate Times, Clisham stated the following:

“It has in the past been somewhat of a precedent for the incumbent president not to endorse a successor; however, in this presidential race, some candidates have resorted to such low tactic of misinforming and misrepresenting the student body, I must intervene. [Bannon] has immense charisma, but lacks the ability to keep his head geared in any one particular direction long enough to accomplish anything.”

Clisham’s endorsement upset Bannon’s supporters who reacted by campaigning harder and continuing to characterize DeBerry as an out of touch member of the establishment.

In one particular instance, Darell Nevin, Bannon’s roommate at Blacksburg’s Stonegate Apartments, was reportedly so furious that he shoved Clisham as he spoke up against Bannon during an SGA debate. The student run newspaper covering the debacle ran with the headline “Scuffle Occurs at Great Debate.”

Photo of Bannon’s SGA Flyer

bannonsga-flyer_1976-1Courtesy of Virginia Tech

A Sizable Victory 

Bannon’s electoral strategy paid off in a big way; he won the election by a significant margin, taking 2,676 votes compared to 1,080 and 688 votes for the second and third place finishers. Bannon, an SGA insurgent candidate who had only been a member of the student organization for little over five months had won the election against Marshall DeBerry, an individual who had been in SGA for three years.

As CEO of Donald Trump’s political campaign during the 2016 electoral cycle, Bannon would dwell on his experience at Virginia Tech by casting Hillary Clinton as an establishment figure who was out of touch with the people.


The above media post was made using information obtained from out Comprehensive Profile Report on Steve Bannon. For access to the report, please contribute to your Patreon page.


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