Chanel Rion might be an accomplished illustrator and Harvard graduate, but her husband-to-be is adamant she be home before six to prepare his dinner. Rion is the fiancee of Missouri outsider senatorial candidate Courtland Sykes. Sykes, a Republican in the mould of Donald Trump, released a bizarre statement on January 23. The press release said, in part, “I want to come home to a home cooked dinner every night at six. 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.”
The statement began with Sykes saying that he favors women’s rights because his fiancee “has given him orders to” but adds “obedience comes with a small price that she loves to pay anyway.”
Sykes is vying to become the Republican nominee to face Democrat Claire McCaskill in November 2018’s U.S. Senate race. In the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a political science lecturer at St. Louis Community College, described Sykes’ campaign as “Trump-inspired populism on steroids.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Couple Met at a CIA Recruitment Event at Harvard
According to Rion’s website, she met Sykes at a CIA recruitment event held at Harvard University. That meeting was preceded by Sykes seeing Rion featured in a DeJour magazine article about conservatives on campus at Harvard.
Despite being an International Relations student at Harvard, Rion is now firmly committed to a career as an illustrator. Rion says on her website that she is creating a series of illustrations for girls who want to “Make America Again.” Rion and Sykes together are seeking to create a summer camp that will keep children away from different ideas titled, “Visit the Real America.”
2. Rion Says the Only Reason She Ever Lived Abroad Was Because of Bill Clinton’s Presidency
Rion writes on her website that she and her family fled the U.S. in 1996 after President Bill Clinton won re-election. The bio says that, “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.”
The family spent time living in South Korea, close to the DMZ, where Rion’s mother is from. The family moved from there to France. In the biography, Rion accuses her classmates of being communists.
On Sykes’ website, he boils down her childhood to living in Texas, Missouri, France and South Korea.
3. Donald Trump Junior Is a Fan of Rion’s Illustration Work
Rion says she has been a Trump supporter since the New Hampshire primary in January 2016 where she worked with Sykes. Without citation, Rion says she has been referred to as “Hillary Clinton’s worst nightmare.” Rion goes on to brag that Donald Trump Junior, 40, used one of her illustrations to win “the media historic battle” that Trump JR. had waged against MSNBC host Rachel Maddow and her revelation that Trump had paid taxes in 2005. The bio adds, “Don 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.”
At the ultra-right wing Values Voters Summit, Rion was quoted by Buzzfeed when asked about Donald Trump once admitting to sexual assault, “I don’t support [Trump’s comments], but with every sinner there’s a future and with every saint there’s a past.” Rion also said that Trump “has never done anything, he has said crass things, but he’s never done anything.” Buzzfeed asked Rion about one of the event’s speakers, Kellyanne Conway, Rion said, “She has a husband, she has children, she has a high education, she has a career, and she has this amazing title of having put a man in presidential office. So as a person who is able to balance all the supreme identities of what being a woman is, she is a feminist.”
4. Her Father Is a Corporate Lawyer
Rion’s father is Dann O. Ryan. Along with her father and brother Baron, a highly decorated Boy Scout, Rion wrote a book, Lamonga: River of the Seven Spirits. A blurb for the book describes Dann O. Ryan as being “born in the American West and became as a small boy, a keeper and finder of relics and a minder of the lore of Indians and of the West that lived on in the heart of a past that could seem to a boy, glorious and near, and of spirits not far away.As a boy he trapped and hunted And spent winters in a tipi pitched by a creek. On the walls of his lodge nearby, he kept in frames of timber, nature and relics of time,and books of the West gone by.”
An article on Baron Ryan’s achievements in scouting says that his father is a corporate lawyer and developer. It says that his father met his South Korea-born wife when he was stationed in Korea with the U.S. Army. The piece adds that the family owns ranches in Texas, Colorado and Missouri.
Rion says on her website that she and her siblings, Channing and Baron, grew up being home schooled. Except for a brief time in school in France, none of the three children set foot on a campus until university. Rion writes, “In my earliest years we lived in Texas, far from town. Dad bought the northernmost part of the King Ranch from an Exxon subsidiary, but there we were… all pine trees and no cattle, a few thousand acres of coastal forests, miles of fence and roads and a bad plan to raise all the horses we could round up if we could ever find them again in the woods brimming with rhinoceros-sized man-eating wild hogs. Not all places are kid-friendly. Little did I guess this was the first of what would became some dramatic personality changing settings for childhood.”
5. Political Insiders in Missouri Continue to Question Sykes’ Campaign
Sykes announced himself as a senatorial candidate in the fall of 2017. Missouri political consultant, Jeff Roe, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “I don’t know anything about him.” While John Messmer said of him, “I’m 99.9 percent sure it’s not parody. 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.”
During his debut video, Sykes says, “My name is Courtland Sykes. United State Senate candidate for Missouri. And if you like Donald Trump, then you and I see eye to eye.” Sykes is also a Navy veteran.