Charles Nana, Cameroonian immigrant and Business consultant is one of eight Democrats vying to fill the Alabama U.S. Senate seat.
According to Al.com, Nana’s road to the nomination may be more difficult this time around. Medical marijuana activist Ron Crumpton, who won the Democratic primary in 2016, backed out of the special election. His opponents this year include former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones and environmentalist Michael Hansen, who have generated a buzz of excitement among Alabama Democrats.
The 51-year-old Nana is currently splitting his time between Nashville, where he works, and Birmingham, where he lives – an arrangement that complicates his campaign. As he prepared to leave on a Monday afternoon, he recounted a whirlwind weekend of campaign events that started almost as soon as he stepped off the plane the Friday before.
Nana hopes his personal story will help him stand out.
He immigrated to the United States from Cameroon in West Africa with $428 in his pocket. He enrolled at top universities, including the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Most of his work focuses on struggling businesses, he said.
“I’m a problem solver,” Nana said. “I’ve been doing this for 25 years. What I do is I go to companies that are sick and I turn them around. Alabama is sick. It’s in a coma, and it needs somebody who knows how to solve problems to turn it around.”
The fundamental problem, in Nana’s view, is the increasing untrustworthiness of politicians from Montgomery to Washington, D.C.. Several times, he questioned President Donald Trump’s decency, citing comments he’s made about women and clashes with American allies in Germany and England.
“My number one issue in this campaign is to demand our leaders to tell the truth and lead by the truth,” he said.
The problems aren’t confined to the White House, he said.
“Let’s look at Alabama,” Nana said. “We have a governor who was forced to resign. He was the family values governor. We have the speaker of the house who was forced to resign. So, we have a president who can’t tell the truth, even if his life depended on it.”
Nana, who has a youthful face and open smile, leaned into his words. As he gained momentum, his voice rumbled through the empty airport hallways.
The Business consultant refers to himself as both a Berniecrat and a conservative Democrat, backing policies such as universal healthcare and free college tuition while swinging to the right on abortion and guns. His Christian beliefs affect his philosophy on abortion, but his politics prevent him from believing it should be enshrined into law.
“Republicans want to impose their view and their approach,” Nana said. “No. I believe in the sanctity of life as a Christian, but I will not impose my view on a woman. She has a right to decide what happens to her body.”
Nana said he believes in the Second Amendment – but also in some regulations on gun ownership.
To make his case to Alabama voters, Nana plans to put faith and morals at the center of his campaign.
“I’m trying to appeal to the goodness in each and every one of us, Nana said. “Democrats in general, they stay away from issues like faith and moral values. We are the party of those who help the disadvantaged, those who help the less fortunate. But for some reason Democrats are not comfortable talking about their faith.”
He acknowledged that he might not win, but said he hoped his message would resonate among young voters and immigrants.
“I hope to win,” Nana said. “But even if I don’t win, it is a win for young folks like myself and especially for immigrants who come to the South. If you have anything to contribute, you should be welcome.”