Stan Tran MD’15 intends to run for congressional office in Rhode Island’s first district, setting him up to challenge fellow Brunonian Rep. David Cicilline ’83, D-R.I., who currently holds the seat. Currently registered as an independent, Tran said he might affiliate with a party during the campaign if one gives him its support.
A Stanford University alum, high school teacher for a year and current third-year student at the Alpert Medical School, Tran will take a break from his studies at the University beginning in April to campaign for the Nov. 4 election.
Tran said he is planning to file a notice of organization — a legal document required for a campaign to begin fundraising — and officially declare his candidacy in “a month or two.” Though Tran has a campaign website with a video introducing himself to voters, he said he has yet to identify his specific positions on many issues, find a campaign manager or begin to fundraise because of his busy schedule as a med student.
“I’m coming into (the campaign) totally differently. Here are my ideas and here’s what I think is wrong — now who’s going to support these ideas? It’s a more pure way of doing it,” he said.
Tran, who has no previous political experience, said he had little interest in politics until two years ago. He highlighted combating the injustices he sees in the political system — mainly “the way the game is played” — as a key goal, adding that he “believe(s) in ideas, not experience.”
Recognizing the long odds against him as a candidate challenging a party-supported incumbent, Tran said “winning is not the goal here.”
“The goal is to start the conversation. It’s to make the government a better place,” he said, adding that even if people opt not to vote for him due to his lack of experience, he hopes to “plant the seed” and force Cicilline to listen to the ideas of the people.
Tran said though he does not yet have specific issues to fight for, he has “big-picture things” he wants to achieve.
“I’m young and part of me still thinks I can change the world,” he said. “When I’m done, I can go back to medicine.”
Tran said he strongly dislikes the lack of authenticity within campaigns. “When you try to vote for a candidate, you don’t know what they stand for,” he said, adding that the change in candidates’ political messages between the primary and general elections to appeal to different constituents is dishonest.
Tran also spoke out against the influence of money in politics.
“Right now, I think what’s happening is that special interests with deep pockets get their way. Money runs the world,” he said. “As a normal person working a (blue-collar) job, you don’t have money to give to campaigns. You’re at the whims of these people. That’s not a democracy at all.”
“Politicians should be citizens first and politicians second,” Tran said, adding that his work with patients gives him a strong connection to everyday people, a tie that career politicians lose.
“I came to med school to help people, and I realized that by the time they get to the hospital, it’s too late. The system has screwed them over,” he said.
Tran said his medical studies have familiarized him with health care, the issue that spurred his interest in politics. The soon-to-be candidate added that he also qualifies for and receives Medicaid coverage.
“People can’t afford health care, and one reason for that is that everyone is getting a cut,” he said.
The race for Congress will “make me a better physician and it’ll plant some seeds in people’s minds,” Tran said. Campaigning is “better than studying anesthesia. … I’d rather do an elective about people.”