Samuel Ronan is a 27 year old German immigrant and United States Air Force veteran who is currently running for chair of the Democratic National Committee. He has an associates degree in applied meteorology science, and previously ran for a seat in the Ohio House of Representatives. Ronan, a strong supporter of the second amendment and religious freedom, and a staunch opponent of corporate donations, promotes a campaign motto of “American people first, politics second.” The Gate’s Dylan Wells interviewed Ronan at the third DNC Future Forum in Detroit, Michigan.
The Gate: What sets you apart from the other candidates for DNC Chair?
Ronan: The primary thing is, I’m talking about the hard truths and the unpopular realities that the party faces. A lot of us are disenfranchised. A lot of us are angry. A lot of us don't trust the party anymore. Not a single candidate has had the courage to speak up and against the way the DNC has been operating. For instance, the only people who can vote for the executive committee are the 470 DNC members themselves, which precludes the millions of Democrats, or would-be Democrats, in deciding their own future and their own fate within the party.
I mentioned that in Houston as part of my closing statement, where I could have instead done a call to arms or say how great I am or this, that, and the other, but I wanted to talk about substance and something that is important.
The other thing we’re not talking about, and the other thing that sets me apart, is nobody’s talking about holding DNC members and elected officials accountable for their actions. There are right now fourteen United States senators who have been rubber-stamping each and every single one of Trump's cabinet picks.* That is unacceptable, especially when they’re supposed to be fighting against this regime.
Anybody can say that “I’m going to fight against Trump and fascism and the Republican party.” People are probably doing that already. It takes real leadership and real courage and conviction to stand up against your own team members. That’s what I bring to the table.
Gate: Can you talk about your past experiences and how they have prepared you for this role?
Ronan: I’m not a congressman; I’m not even a mayor. I was in the military for seven years. Active duty, and I’m still a reservist. Working my way from the bottom and making it finally into the NCO tier has shown me exactly what leadership is about, what it means to be a part of a team, and how to accomplish the mission.
I use a lot of military words. I’m not gonna turn the DNC into a paramilitary, but at the same time, [I will bring] that mindset of working together, one team one fight, the ability to follow somebody, not because they’re over you or because they happen to be in charge, but because you want to follow them.
I’ve had good leaders in my past, and I’m trying to emulate those folks. I have that kind of experience, having worked with people and been in positions where I did have authority or I did have an impact. I was unit deployment monitor. I started off being in charge of one hundred people and making sure they were ready to fight our nation’s fights at the drop of a hat. Then we started to merge, and all of a sudden my workload improved by 500 percent.
At the same time, our conformity rating was very, very below par. Not only did I have to be in charge of six hundred people who still needed to do the mission and get deployed, but they also needed to be on par, and they weren’t. I had to fix programs, take care of more people so that our country could meet its mission. If I can meet a standard like that in just three months’ time, taking us from less than 20 percent conformity to well over 97 percent compliance, I would say I can walk the walk and fix the problems that are in the DNC and give us more of a voice like we've been missing this entire time.
Gate: If you are selected, what is the first thing on your agenda, day one in office?
Ronan: My first-day agenda is simplifying the website and making it more transparent. Nobody knows who the DNC members are. Nobody knows how to get in contact with your state chairman or even your county chairman, so we need to improve the directory. That shouldn’t take too terribly long. You can get a bunch of interns to write a webpage like that and get some links going.
The second thing we need to do is emphasize our financial structure. The things that I’ve talked about, the accountability, getting money to local campaigns, that groundwork needs to be set. It’s not going to be a day one, [asking] senators [to] come in here, have a chat, and then be reprimanded and then go out. No, there’s got to be some organization, and what we lack is infrastructure. We have top-down communication that is sporadic, so we need to improve that.
We need to make it simpler, we need to make it more obvious, and then we need to get that word out. So, day one is simplifying our processes, making them more transparent, and setting the groundwork for accountability and integrity and building those connections with the people at the ground floor.
This interview has been edited for content and clarity.
Dylan Wells is a fourth-year Political Science major and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations minor. This summer Dylan worked at ABC News' Washington, D.C. bureau as a Political Unit Fellow. Previously, she interned twice at the Institute of Politics as the Events Intern and the Summer Programs Intern, and with POLITICO Live at the DNC. On campus, Dylan serves on the boards of TEDxUChicago and Chicago Strategies. Last year she served as The Gate's Elections Editor, and was the recipient of the inaugural David Axelrod Reporting Grant, which she used for a story on domestic human trafficking. Dylan enjoys traveling, exploring the Chicago brunch scene, and playing with her dog, Wasabi.