Courtland Sykes, a Republican candidate for the United States Senate, has drawn criticism for a statement he made recently regarding women’s rights. Sykes took to Facebook earlier this week to elaborate on comments he had made previously about whether or not he favors women’s rights. In the post he said he favors women’s rights because his fiancee “has given him orders to,” but that in return he expects her to understand that his “obedience comes with a small price that she loves to pay anyway.”
“I want to come home to a home cooked dinner every night at six,” Sykes says in the post. “One that she fixes and one that I expect one day to have daughters learn to fix after they become traditional homemakers and family wives – think Norman Rockwell here and Gloria Steinem be damned.”
Sykes goes on to say that he doesn’t “buy into radical feminism’s crazed definition of modern womanhood,” saying that they “made it up to suit their own nasty, snake-filed heads.”
Sykes responded to the criticism of his statement Thursday afternoon on Twitter, attacking CNN in the process.
Currently running to fill the seat currently occupied by Democrat Claire McCaskill, Sykes is one of four Republicans running to challenge McCaskill in November.
Here is what you need to know about Courtland Sykes.
1. Sykes is a Graduate of Harvard and a Naval Veteran
Sykes is somewhat of a mystery to those in Missouri and was a surprise addition to the race to challenge McCaskill. He has been a full-time resident of Missouri for less than a year, but has claimed ties to the state due to time spent in the Ozarks on family vacations when he was growing up. In response to his background, the candidate recently told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he didn’t have any plans “to talk about family stuff.”
Sykes, 37, is a graduate of Harvard and served in the Navy. According to his LinkedIn page, he “served in the U.S. Navy following the September 11, 2001 attacks and served until January 2011” and that his “military commands include: USS Bonhomme Richard, SEAL Team 5 (NOT A SEAL), Navy Special Warfare Unit 3, and the Defense Intelligence Agency.”
After serving in the military, Sykes founded Talosorion and is currently the Managing Director. He has described the company as “a consulting and education firm, frankly; specifically designed for military and special forces intelligence guys.” The company lists its mission as “bridging military and diplomatic strategies.”
When asked about his work with Talosorion, Sykes has been reluctant to go into details, saying that he’s “going to need a little bit of privacy when it comes to DOD (Department of Defense) consulting.”
2. Sykes is a Mystery Among Missouri Republicans
Sykes was a largely an unknown to the Missouri Republican party when he threw his name into the race in the fall of 2017.
“I don’t know anything about him,” said Jeff Roe, a political consultant with Kansas City-based Axiom Strategies.
Sykes’ campaign message has been described as “Trump-inspired populism on steroids” by John Messmer, who teaches political science at St. Louis Community College.
“I’m 99.9 percent sure it’s not parody,” Messmer said. “It’s not something strategic done by the Democratic side or someone that’s looking to criticize the conservative or Republican position. I do hold back that .1 percent. This might be one of the greatest examples of political performance art I’ve ever seen.”
3. Many People First Learned of Sykes Via His First Campaign Video
Sykes announced his campaign with a video that The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said “paints a bleak portrait of America.” The video also seems to amplify Messmer’s assessment of Sykes, as it’s messages are extremely ramped up bullet points used by President Trump during his campaign.
The video warns of rampant crime and “out of control” immigration. It also says that nuclear terror “is here.”
“My name is Courtland Sykes,” he says in the video, “United States Senate candidate for Missouri. And if you like President Trump, then you and I see eye to eye.”
Trump however, has yet to support Sykes. The President has instead offered up a casual endorsement of Missouri’s current Attorney General, Josh Hawley, who is the favorite in the race. Sykes has said that he has “exchanged pleasantries” with Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist and ousted head of Breitbart.
4. Sykes’ Fiancee is an Illustrator and Author Who Counts Donald Trump Jr. as a Fan
In his controversial Facebook post, Sykes says that he is in favor of women’s rights at the behest of his fiancee, Chanel Rion. According to Sykes’ website, Rion is a “dedicated lifetime conservative,” as well as “an American author, political illustrator and commentator.” The site says she was born in Texas, but that she grew up in Missouri, as well as France and South Korea.
Rion says that her time overseas was prompted by the election of Bill Clinton.
“Clinton ran for reelection against (my) dad’s old friend and onetime political mentor, Bob Dole. Clinton was the last straw, so dad picked up stakes and moved us out of the country. I think he wanted us to see what a debauched idea socialism was and that socialism was what the Clintons stood for. He wanted us to see what socialism did in the real world—how it destroyed people and human happiness in practice.”
Rion, like Sykes, graduated from Harvard, where she studied International Relations. Her website says that the couple meet at Harvard, meeting at a CIA recruiting event.
On her own personal website, Rion claims she is the Trump Army’s sharpest illustrator and the site features plenty of pro-Trump illustrations, as well as a photo of Rion with Bannon. According to her website, her illustrations have been praised by the President’s son, Donald Trump Jr., saying that Trump Jr. “cited Chanel’s work as a proof of how such articulations on social media could be used to defeat the left, fake news and Washington’s socialist swamp.”
5. Sykes Has Adopted A Lot of Trump’s America First Positions
Sykes’ views on women’s rights aren’t his only controversial views. According to a statement sent to St. Louis Post-Dispatch following his campaign announcement, Sykes has taken numerous positions that align himself with Trump’s America First agenda, notably the President’s attacks on the media and Islam.
On Islam, Sykes says that “any person, of any religion, who believes his religion gives him the right to say that his religious duty as a believer is to murder others because they don’t believe. We are talking about Muslims — and their Koran.” He adds that he’d “like to stop Muslim immigration cold for now.” Sykes says that he believes the United States is a Christian country.
Sykes also has taken to using Trump’s “fake news” label when describing the media. He also has qualms with the current state of the media in America, saying that “big media has become too many dumb blonds…too many leg dangles, too many ‘tee-hee’s,’ too many hate-Trump stories, too much ‘fake news,’ too many left-biased reporters, too much mud-slinging — the credibility is shot to hell and with it big media.”
Unsurprisingly, Sykes is a fan of Breitbart.
“I like their authenticity. They’re bold and they’re fearless.”