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Background

The first and only woman to enter the field of DNC chair candidates, Sally Boynton Brown is the current executive director of the Idaho Democratic Party. Boynton Brown, 40, is a lifelong resident of Idaho where she grew up in a working-class family and married young. With her husband Burr, she has raised three children and started multiple successful small businesses, including her own childcare company.

Perhaps not surprisingly, dealing with a room full of toddlers is an experience she calls “pivotal” to her management skills. After returning to school in her late twenties, Boynton Brown graduated from Boise State University with a BA in Communications. Almost immediately, she put her newfound skills to use in the political arena.

Professional & Political Experience

Boynton Brown’s early career saw her largely in business management. She both started her own businesses and at one point supported and trained up to 200 home consultants for The Body Shop. Only after returning to school and graduating in 2005 did she enter politics in full force.

Fresh out of school, Boynton Brown ran a successful legislative campaign for Rep. Sue Chew. Two years later, she managed another successful legislative campaign for Phylis King. In 2010, she took on the role of director of operations for Keith Allred’s gubernatorial campaign. Boynton Brown was brought on as the field director of the Idaho Democratic Party in 2011. Within a year, she was promoted to communications director, and finally to the position of executive director. She is also president of the Association of State Democratic Party Executive Directors.

As a leader of the Democratic Party in one of the reddest states in the country, Boynton Brown has had a particularly challenging job. Yet, she has proven herself an apt fundraiser and ended each year of her tenure with a surplus. She has a history of working for voter equality and inclusion and has long advocated for increased political and voter participation in her state and beyond. In fact, in 2013 Boynton Brown began the Lead discussion group, a collaboration of national Democratic organizations focused on increasing the number of women leaders in the Democratic Party through engagement and support.

Political Views, Points of Interest & Endorsements

Boynton Brown is a self-acknowledged outsider—a characteristic that could either serve or harm her political ambitions. She has no recognizable allies in national politics, though this will likely change given time, since she only announced her bid in late December. She does, however, have the endorsement of all four Idaho DNC members, including party chairman Bert Marley. Notably, while Boynton Brown is well-respected in her state’s party politics, her bid comes as four key legislative seats were lost in Idaho, a crushing disappointment to Democrats hopeful of pushing back against the state’s Republican supermajority.

Boynton Brown is less concerned with appealing to “Bernie voters” versus “Hillary voters.” Instead, she is concerned with bridging the perceived gaps between them. “Our party can’t afford to spend the next two years having an ideological debate on whether we are liberals or moderates,” Boynton Brown commented in a prepared statement on her bid for DNC chair. “The Democratic Party has always represented the people and now more than ever we must blow the walls off our tent so everyone feels welcome.”

Thus far, Boynton Brown’s campaign has been largely grassroots, a strategy she appears to favor and one that reflects her oft-stated belief that politics should be as inclusive of the “little guy” as anyone else. It also reflects her vision for the DNC’s future as one that embraces a “flat structure” in which power is more evenly dispersed. With her extensive experience running blue campaigns in a veritable sea of red, Boynton Brown believes she has the specific skills and insights needed to speak to disaffected voters.

For more reading material on Boynton Brown, we encourage you to check out a few of our sources below:

  • http://www.idahostatesman.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article121393203.html
  • http://www.idahostatesman.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article124004844.html
  • http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/312040-idahos-boynton-brown-pitches-herself-as-outsider-in-long-shot-dnc-bid
  • http://www.politico.com/story/2016/12/sally-boynton-brown-dnc-chair-232740
  • http://idahodems.org/

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Kelly Metz-Matthews is a longtime communications, education, and English-language professional.  Kelly teaches college courses including English as a second language, international business English, and writing. She holds a BA  in English, an MA  in Liberal Studies, and an MA in Curriculum and Instruction. She lives in San Diego, California in an eclectic little library masquerading as a house.