Ronnie Cho got the name nickname “Chobama” while knocking on doors in Iowa in 2007, and then followed the president to the White House as a youth affairs aide call-to-arms from his commander in chief is not something he can ignore.
“Barack Obama, I never want to disappoint,” Cho said.
On 10 January he stood among the thousands gathered in McCormick Place, Chicago, for Obama’s final speech as president. Cho’s mother, originally from South Korea and now a retired customer service worker, flew out from Phoenix to be there with her son.
Cho turned to his mother and his 2008 campaign and White House cohorts and announced he would run for New York city council in 2017.
“He challenged us: if you really believe in the work we did and what we fought for, let’s keep working for this and I’m counting on you. If it weren’t for that, how many of us would have the courage?” said Cho, 34, speaking to the Guardian at a Puerto Rican restaurant in his East Village neighborhood, in the council district 2 seat he’s hoping to win.
His campaign manager is Frankie Martinez Blanco, who worked for Obama during the 2008 campaign and later for Obama’s education secretary.
Cho is one of a handful of Obama alums who started as fresh-faced college kids working on his campaign or in his administration and have now decided to run for office or help others run in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election. They’re responding to Obama’s call – and their own desire to protect and support the progressive policies they built.
Obama, Cho recalled, used to regularly tell staff that people on school boards and local councils had more impact on citizens’ day-to-day lives than what they were doing in the White House.
Before Obama left office and Trump won, only a few of them ran for public office – such as Michael Blake, the New York state assembly member and new vice-chair of the DNC who started with the Obama camp in Iowa 2007; White House aide turned Massachusetts state senator Eric Lesser; and mayor of Stockton, California, Michael Tubbs, who was a White House intern in 2010 and got an endorsement from Obama for his mayoral race last year.
You can read the rest at the Guardian.