Sally Boynton Brown is one of the candidates to be the next chair of the Democratic National Committee.
Brown has participated in most of the DNC chair debates, and she will be at CNN’s debate on Wednesday night. She’s running alongside Tom Perez and Keith Ellison, who are currently considered to be the two frontrunners.
Here’s what you need to know about Sally Boynton Brown, candidate for DNC chair.
1. She’s the Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Idaho
Sally Boynton Brown’s current position is as the executive director of the Democratic Party of Idaho. She joined the organization as field director in January 2011, becoming communications director later that same year.
“I had doubts about whether I was ready to lead a state party,” Brown says on her website. “I did what I always do. I ran through the fear. I made sure the job wasn’t about me—it was about our community and Idaho’s collective future. I surrounded myself with honest, hard working, committed, creative and forward-thinking people. I brought together the team and we got to work growing the Democratic Party in Idaho.”
In addition, Brown is also the president of the Association of State Democratic Party Executive Directors. According to The Idaho Statesman, Brown took a two-month leave of absence from the Democratic Party of Idaho in order to run for DNC chair.
Brown believes that the fact that she is from a red state is a valuable asset.
“If people haven’t noticed, our country is becoming more Republican,” she told the Idaho Statesman. “Coming from a red state, I already know what it’s like to bring people together and fight for Democrats.”
2. She Ran the Campaigns of Several Idaho Democrats
Before joining the Democratic Party of Idaho, Sally Boynton Brown worked as the campaign manager for several Idaho Democratic candidates.
The first was Sue Chew, a candidate for the Idaho House of Representatives who won during the 2006 election and has remained in that position ever since. Brown then ran the re-election campaign of Phylis King, another member of the Idaho House of Representatives who was successfully re-elected during the 2008 election.
During the 2010 election, Brown worked on the campaign of Keith Allred, a Democratic candidate for Idaho governor. Allred was defeated in the general election by Butch Otter, who captured 59 percent of the vote. Otter still serves as the governor of Idaho.
3. She Is Married & Has Three Children
Sally Boynton Brown has three children aged 23, 19 and 17.
According to her campaign’s website, Brown raised her children while studying at Boise State University, where she graduated in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. Brown also worked in small business throughout college to support her children.
“Looking back, I realize what a difficult decade that was. It didn’t feel that way though,” Brown says on her website. “I loved being a mom. I loved my kids. I loved dreaming of our future possibilities.”
According to the Idaho Statesman, Brown is married to Burr Brown, with their wedding having taken place when she was 19. Burr works in property management.
4. She Said During a Previous Debate That Her Job Is to ‘Shut Other White People Down’ When They Say They Aren’t Prejudiced
Brown stirred up some controversy during a DNC debate in January due to comments she made in a discussion about race.
During the debate, Brown expressed her support for the Black Lives Matter movement and said that Democrats must grapple with the fact that there is prejudice within their own party. She also said that many within her party have not adequately listened to the concerns of minorities.
“We cannot smash voices down when they are trying to scream, ‘Listen to me. You don’t get it,'” Brown said. “I’m a white woman. I don’t get it. I am pleased and honored to be here today to have the conversation. I am so excited that we’re here. And I am listening because that’s my job. My job is to listen to the issues.”
Brown went on to say that her job is also to shut white people down when they say that they don’t have any prejudices.
“My job is to shut other white people down when they want to interrupt,” she said. “My job is to shut other white people down when they want to say, ‘Oh, no, I’m not prejudiced. I’m a Democrat. I’m accepting.’ My job is make sure that they get that they have privilege, and until we shut our mouths and we listen to those people who don’t and we lift our people up so we all have equity in this country…we’re not going to break through this.”
She also said that Idaho is “so white” and so she is eager to hear from people of color because “I need schooling” and so that “I can go school the other white people.”
This comment spread across the Internet and was criticized by those on the right, with the quote being picked up by Fox News, The Washington Times, Breitbart and The Daily Caller among other conservative outlets. Brown told the Idaho Statesman that the comments were “being taken out of context,” adding that “[w]hat I was answering to was an internal party conversation around being in alignment with our values and words.” She also criticized media outlets for taking her words out of context, calling them fake news.
5. She Says Democrats Lost in November Because They Focused Too Heavily on Attacking Trump
Of course, the most important question for any DNC chair candidate to answer is, why did Hillary Clinton lose the election? In an interview with the Idaho Statesman, Brown said that the Democrats did not have a strong message about who they are, and instead they built their campaign largely around attacking their opponent.
“Until we return to our values and connect with voters around those values and talk about those stories, I think we will continue to see close misses, because a lot of the voters are not interested in the facts and the policies and the issues,” Brown said. “A lot of the voters are very much human beings that are reacting to the emotional everyday realities of their lives and they want a leader that is doing the same thing. And, frankly, that’s what we saw in Trump. There probably is not a better example of somebody who reacts to the emotions of his day-to-day life.”
In a statement released upon the announcement of her candidacy, Brown also pointed to the fact that so many voters stayed home on November 8th.
“It’s time to have an organizational conversation on how we become a resilient, innovative Party for the 21st Century,” she said. “Our most important mission is to inspire all Americans to participate fully in democracy and clear all barriers that stand between Americans and their right to cast a ballot. As your next DNC Chair, I will lead the insurgency against the forces that threaten the country we love.”