Dark Angel wants to be your next congressman
By Rebecca Panico
You’ve most likely seen him on campus walking to class, looking a bit tired and overworked just like any other average college student. Tall and lanky, wearing his trademark bandana, hastily going from one building to the next.
Maybe he hands you your cup of coffee when you swing by Starbucks in the library’s lobby before class, or maybe you’ve seen him as a guest speaker in one of your political science classes. Lately, he’s been asked to speak in these classes because of his campaign.
His name is Dark Angel and he’s running for Congress in November’s midterm elections.
Angel, 26, felt that his needs, as well as those of others, weren’t adequately represented. That was the impetus for his decision to run as an Independent candidate for the House of Representatives in New Jersey’s 10th District, which includes portions of Essex, Union, and Hudson counties.
“Well I honestly don’t feel that there’s anyone elected in my state that currently represents what I view are my values politically,” Angel said. “So I decided to step up myself.”
Putting an end to the student loan debt crisis is one of Angel’s main issues in his campaign. This comes as no surprise, considering that he’s currently a student here at Kean studying economics while working three jobs to support himself.
“We have a situation where there is an entire workforce burdened by 10’s of thousands (100’s of thousands, depending on your major) of dollars in debt,” Angel explained on his campaign’s website, Darkangelforcongress.com. “These are individuals that cannot find work, or are working 2-3 jobs at the same time, just to pay tuition and make ends meet.”
Some other key issues he would focus on if elected include job creation and addressing the poverty problem in New Jersey. These are all related to his main issue of establishing affordable higher education.
“We have an unthinkable economy that’s stuck in recession, where the cost of living, healthcare, and tuition are all rising at rates that no one can keep up with, and the few people with degrees (or working towards one) are far from the highest earners in the job market at the moment,” he further pointed out on his website.
In order to alleviate this crisis, Angel will work at the state and national level since most colleges will not willingly reduce the ever-rising cost of tuition.
“The issue won’t be fixed just because you bring tuition down. You have to find the systemic causes and address them, not just the symptoms,” Angel said. “I think a lot of these issues have to be solved at a federal level.”
Angel may not fit everyone’s archetype of a politician. He’s young, does not come from a rich or well-connected family, and certainly has a unique name.
“I’m not a millionaire, I don’t come from the trust fund baby club, and I don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars backing me. I’ve been very smart about my campaign,” Angel said. “I’m not running as a politician. I’m running for a politician’s job. I’m an alternative. You’re never going to find anyone different from me… But I know the job and I know what it takes.”
Due to a lack of funds, endorsements, and connections Angel has run a large part of his campaign on his own. He’s had about 20 people on his staff throughout the course of his campaign which began in 2012, and it’s largely been a grassroots effort.
“The staff has been limited and not all of them are from New Jersey. They’ll have access to social media websites like Twitter or Facebook, and they’ll manage that,” Angel said. “We’ve lost some members and we’ve gained some members. The staff has stayed evolving since this campaign started. But it has been hard because even if we had a hundred man team we couldn’t necessarily pay for them.”
Besides a lack of funds, Angel and his staff also had to face the dilemma of his distinctive name. Jessica Thompson, one of Angel’s local staff members and a Wesleyan College political science alumna, described her experience while she made phone calls for his campaign.
“I’d usually try to not mention his name until the very end,” Thompson said. “Or I’d refer to him as Mr. Angel at first. Sometimes people would just hang up, or they’d say, ‘I’m not voting for the Devil,’ or they’d think I’m messing with them.”
Although at times potential voters’ reactions to his name weren’t very positive, Angel was still able to acquire the 100 signatures needed to get his name on the ballot.
“A hundred signatures does not seem like a lot until you’re trying to chase people down on a Saturday and explain to them that your name is Dark Angel and you want to stop the student loan debt crisis,” Angel said. “Some people approach the campaign as being something about a name or something about celebrity, and they don’t give the issues a chance.”
Angel legally changed his first name to Dark and his last name to Angel when he was younger because he hoped it would help him in a career in acting. Now, however, Angel believes that his name distinguishes him from other candidates.
“I kept the name because it’s something that has been an advantage to me at every point in my life,” Angel said. “The fact that my name is Dark Angel makes me a more viable candidate because you’re never going to forget my name. No matter who you are, that name will stick with you so long as you live. While it does have a few tell-tale barbs, by and large it is the biggest benefit this campaign has had.”