Medill alum Ryan Huffman campaigns to flip his district blue in Illinois State Representative race


John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Illinois State Capitol building in Springfield. Ryan Huffman (Medill ‘08) is running for a state representative position in Illinois’ 54th district.

Isabelle Sarraf, Assistant Campus Editor

Once an intern for then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, Ryan Huffman (Medill ‘08) is following a similar path by running for a State Representative seat in Illinois’ 54th district.

Graduating from Northwestern right during the 2008 financial crisis, Huffman said it was tough to break into the job market as a journalist. His post-graduation internship set him on the path for a politically-driven career, he said.

Emily Murskyj, Huffman’s friend and campaign super volunteer, said she had been working with Huffman in 2016 around the time of the presidential election. She said she could sense that Huffman was going to enter the public sphere and be proactive in politics because of how shocked and upset he was the day after the election.

“You could kind of already tell then that the fire inside him was building,” Murskyj said.

The Palatine resident decided to run for a Congressional seat in Illinois’ 6th district in 2018. He said he decided it was time to step up and make some of the changes he wanted to see in his community and country.

Though Huffman lost the Democratic primary for that race, he said he was motivated to run for state representative of his home district in 2020 after educating himself on the incumbent — a “very far-right Republican” — State Rep. Tom Morrison (R-Palatine).

“(Palatine) happened to be one of the few districts in this area that did not turn blue in this last election,” Huffman said. “It became a pretty obvious target for me if I’m going to go to Springfield and really make a difference. We can do a lot better than what we’ve got currently.”

Tristan Angulo, Huffman’s nominal campaign manager, said the people of District 54 are looking for a change. He cited Morrison spearheading legislation in 2016 that denied transgender children access to the restroom of their identity as one of the many reasons why Huffman believes he would be a better representative of the Palatine community.

Angulo added that Huffman’s campaign is focused on rooting out corruption and offering solutions to the problems that younger generations are inheriting.

“What really motivates me,” Huffman said, “is trying to restore Illinois’ faith that the government can be a force for good in their lives and that it can operate in a really democratic fashion that it’s not currently doing.”

Natalie Freeman, a long-time friend of Huffman’s, said it became apparent when Huffman was running in 2018 that money was a key factor in that race. She said this motivated him to run in 2020 on a platform rooted in systemic change like campaign finance reform, removing conflicts of interest from elected leaders and using public office as a force for public good.

“There’s a big piece of him that is not complacent with living with things the way that they’ve been,” Freeman said.

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Twitter: @isabellesarraf

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