Always move left. Always continue to progress. Don’t look back.
That has been Connor Jonathan Kitchens’ motto ever since he learned he was a true progressive as a younger teenager.
“I was raised in a home that voted reliably democratic, but I never knew why. When I was about 13 years old, I began to do my own reading and research, and learned that I was far more progressive than my parents had the household to be.” said Kitchens.
Kitchens became very heavily involved in politics at a young age. “I was 13 years old when Bush defeated Gore in the 2000 election, and that is what set off the tinderbox for me. I became very heavily involved in progressive politics from that point on.”
Kitchens was the youngest local chair of John Kerry’s campaign in 2014 at just 16 years old. “I grew up in a Republican stronghold area of Conroe, TX, so Kerry supporters were few in far between. I decided it was me who had to step up.” Even with facing strong Republican headwinds, Kitchens was able to grow the Montgomery County’s Democratic Party rolls and funnel a lot of fundraising into Kerry’s campaign coffers, far more than what was projected. It was a large success. Even though Kerry lost, Kitchens felt the groundwork laid would pay off in the future. “It just made us more determined”, said Kitchens.
Kitchens used this experience to leverage his way into Stanford University. “I was excited to finally get the hell out of Texas and into a state that I was more aligned with politically. Stanford was great because instead of being surrounded by redneck conservative hicks, I was surrounded by like minded progressive intellectuals in which we were able to rub off on each other and make each other more progressive. Stanford was a place I actually got to live my motto out.”
After making his way to Bellingham, WA after graduating, Kitchens met Public Radio Seattle VP of Community Outreach Roaro Kleibenschnott at a rally for Barack Obama in 2012. Impressed by his progressive tunnel vision, Kleibenschnott offered Kitchens a weekend program slot on Public Radio Seattle, which Kitchens accepted and named Leftward Ho!. The large success of Leftward Ho! left Public Radio Seattle President Frank Matthews-Lester no other choice but to move him into a M-F weekday slot. And not just any slot, but the M-F 6pm-8pm late afternoon drive slot, where Leftward Ho! continues to do very well to this day.
Kitchens broadcasts his program from Bellingham, a place he has fallen in love with. “I love Seattle, but Bellingham is more like home for me.” Kitchens enjoys going to Vancouver to sample the dining and wine options there in his free time.