The 49 year old Sanctus native, Ethan Ringrose, is no stranger to gruelling campaigns. Only earlier this year, he narrowly lost to Katherine Saunders to succeed Marian Woodstrom as President of Sanctaria. In 2019, he lost – again, narrowly – to Katherine Dwight to become Governing-Mayor of Sanctus. Both times inexperience compared to his competitors was shown by polls to be his downfall. This time, however, he has a national profile, and none of his opponents are called Katherine – a joke doing the rounds in his campaign team.
Ringrose has always been in politics. Born in March 1973, just 18 months before the Papal States of Sanctaria became the Divine Republic of Sanctaria, he shared his formative years with that of the new state. His parents, decidedly middle class, encouraged his interest in politics, and Ringrose spent his teenage years in the mid 80s volunteering with soup kitchens in the inner city slums of Sanctus. Ostensibly a teacher, he graduated from University College Sanctus in 1995 with a degree in education, it’s not believed that Ringrose has ever actually stepped foot inside a classroom as a fully qualified teacher. After college, he immediately began working for various different Sanctus MPs as a messenger, leaflet dropper, office secretary, policy advisor, and later chief of staff. He was co-opted to Sanctus City Council in 2011 after the death of nonagenarian DLP councillor Louisa Hennessy, and has been re-elected at every City Council election since.
He failed to get the DLP nomination to run in the 2018 general election, losing narrowly (see the pattern yet?) to an incumbent MP, but his campaign team have stressed that every knock Ringrose has received in his political life has only made him more determined. “Losing elections is just as character defining, if not more so, than winning elections and languishing as a backbench MP”, one source said. His friends and supporters point to his long established moderate record, and his ability as a councillor in Sanctaria’s largest city to work not just across the aisle, but also across the deep divisions in the DLP; he has managed to corral socialist DLP councillors and hard right SCP councillors to support motions as wide-ranging as tackling drug addiction, and ensuring unions had a seat at the table for city council employee wage disputes.
The recent presidential campaign also gave him a national stage; though he was previously known only in Sanctus, itself a big deal, now people across the country know his name, and importantly for him, what he stands for. No political commentator seriously thought that he’d win that election, and beat Saunders, but he came closer than people expected, and he achieved what he set out to do – get the public aware of him. Since announcing his candidacy for leadership of the DLP, he has portrayed himself in the same moderate mould as outgoing leader Charlene Hendry is – though Hendry has never been the most popular within the DLP itself, it’s that moderate streak that the voting public have liked about her throughout her time as Leader of the Opposition, and as Chancellor, and Ringrose is attempting to appeal to the DLP membership that he’s the best one to continue that and win the next election.
Many, however, dismiss him as overly ambitious and a “glory hog”. It’s not yet known if he could really shephard a party as diverse as pro-life centrists to borderline anarcho-communists. Critics call him shallow and power hungry. The SCP already have attack lines ready to go, describing him as “a constant failure”. Ringrose dismisses these as “petty and irrelevant”, though it is true that being rejected by the electorate twice in the last three years is a heavy burden he needs to overcome. He also hasn’t yet articulated how he will overcome the perception, by the general electorate and by the DLP membership, he is “inexperienced” – he lost those last two elections because of that, and one of his competitors this time around is a cabinet secretary.
Though he is currently behind in the polls of likely DLP voters, Ringrose is hoping his promise of continuing Hendry’s moderate outlook, and as such preserving Sanctaria’s economic and political powerhouse status, will win out in the end. Ringrose has said he wants to see further devolution of powers to the federalised states, giving more power to the people, and more investment in public services. He has promised to continue supporting the expanded defence investment which as proved surprising popular with the public, and to better foster international relationships with like minded countries. Ringrose is positioning himself as the only candidate who can beat out the SCP’s Kate Cruz in a general election – current polling does back up his claim, with Cruz beating his other opponents, but perhaps ominously, tying with Ringrose, as preferred Chancellor.
JOEY SESSIONS, Political Editor