Samuel Ronan, candidate for chair of the Democratic National Committee, will participate in CNN’s DNC debate this evening.
Ronan is one of several long-shot candidates for the job, with the frontrunners for the position being Keith Ellison and Tom Perez. But Ronan has earned some attention on social media, especially from progressives and Bernie Sanders supporters.
Here’s what you need to know about Samuel Ronan, 27-year-old candidate for DNC chair.
1. He Was Born in Germany & His Family Immigrated to the United States
According to his campaign website, Samuel Ronan was originally born in Germany, with his father being a soldier in the U.S. army and his mother being a dental assistant in Germany. When Samuel was six years old, his family moved to Lancaster, Ohio, the city in which Samuel spent the remainder of his youth.
While attending high school, Ronan was a foreign exchange student in his senior year, spending that last year back in Germany.
Upon returning to the United States, Ronan enlisted in the Air Force.
2. He Served in the Air Force For Five Years
Samuel Ronan began his career in the U.S. Air Force in November of 2009, first being stationed in Okinawa, Japan, according to his campaign website. He went on to serve at Little Rock Air Force Base in Little Rock, Arkansas.
While serving in active duty, Ronan attended the Community College of the Air Force and earned a degree in Applied Sciences.
Ronan says on his website that he knew he wanted to pursue a career in politics while he was in his final year in the Air Force, as he saw the “gross misconduct of our nations elected leaders and their abuse of power that resulted in a two week government shutdown in October of 2013.”
3. He Says He is More Progressive Than Keith Ellison
Although Keith Ellison has won the endorsement of Bernie Sanders and is generally the DNC chair candidate of choice among most progressives, Ronan says that he is the most progressive candidate on the ballot.
When asked in an interview with Al Jazeera if his candidacy runs the risk of taking away enthusiasm from Keith Ellison, Ronan said, “Absolutely not. I am the better candidate. I am the more progressive figure. Just because I’m unknown doesn’t change that. We could have our cake and eat it. I’m not doing this to poke the eye of the tiger.”
Ronan went on to say that he loves Keith Ellison and that Ellison was the best person for Bernie Sanders to endorse at the time, but Ronan has since entered the race, and so he now believes he is the better choice.
He also stated that he identifies with Sanders’ “message of bringing the party back to the people.” Like Bernie Sanders, Ronan is very much against corporate donors and the influence of corporations on politics, and he says that Democratic Senator Cory Booker “sold out to the pharmaceutical industry” when he voted against an amendment proposed by Bernie Sanders allowing pharmacists to import prescription medicine from other countries.
4. He Says That Debbie Wasserman Schultz ‘Violated the Democratic Process’
Some progressives and Bernie Sanders supporters feel that the Democratic National Committee favored Hillary Clinton during the primary process and did everything it could to ensure she won the nomination over Sanders, the candidate they argue could have defeated Donald Trump.
Ronan is of that belief, and when he was asked in an interview with H.A. Goodman why he would have been a better DNC chair than Debbie Wasserman Schultz, he said, “I wouldn’t have tipped the scales, and violated the Democratic process.”
Ronan went on to say that the DNC needs to formally apologize to Bernie Sanders. He also said that if anyone other than him or Pete Buttigieg is nominated to be the chair of the Democratic National Committee, the “DNC will fall, and the void will be filled by Trump’s administration, and the GOP.”
When asked in a Reddit Ask Me Anything if he would eliminate super delegates, Ronan said, “You damn well better believe it.”
5. He Says Democrats Need to Get More Involved in Rural America
Perhaps the most important question for the next Democratic National Committee chair to answer is, why did Hillary Clinton lose the election? Samuel Ronan says that part of the reason is because the Democratic party has neglected rural America.
“We haven’t been present in rural America for 30 years,” Ronan told Al Jazeera. “We haven’t given a damn for the common people in 30 years. You just have to open the doors to common people. They’re passionate and energised to get things done. That is literally all it takes.”
He also said in his Reddit Ask Me Anything, “We don’t exist in rural America and the only way to change that is by meaningful involvement in the local communities, not simply ‘oh look there’s the Democrat.'”