Gil Cisneros: The independent promise in California
The primary in California is one of the most observed political races in the country, especially because of its system of “top-two” candidates. This year an independent and Latino candidate has stood out in one of the most important races for Democrats to flip the House.
California is not only the most thriving economy in the country, but also the epicenter of political reformism.
Facing the convulsive national primary elections, this state will be one of the most observed scenarios, especially due to the importance of achieving change in the legislative chambers and for the state's particular electoral system.
Although in many states primary elections work as a kind of filter to choose one among many, the system is different in California. Voters must choose their two favorite candidates among a large number of contenders (ever since the electoral reform of 2010).
"Eight years ago California was notorious for its extremely left-wing Democrats, its extremely right-wing Republicans and its political paralysis," explains an analysis by The Economist. "The few moderates, such as then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, championed primary reform as a way to empower centrists. In theory, top-two primaries encourage candidates to appeal to lots of voters, not just the ideological purists who turn up for ordinary primary elections. Constituency boundaries and term limits were altered at about the same time.”
This year, with special thanks to the White House’s erratic administration, the primaries are more important than ever.
Organizations such as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) have put all of their efforts into raising funds and promoting campaigns of the candidates that are able to concentrate support that lagged behind in the 2016 presidential elections—especially the minorities—taking advantage of the general discontent of the country.
In California, "the 39th Congressional District is seen as one of the Democrats’ best potential pickup opportunities in 2018, so long as a Democrat makes it out of the top-two primary system,” the Washington Post explains. “Six Democrats are running in the June 5 primary, as well as six Republicans."
One of them is the independent candidate Gil Cisneros, recently backed by the DCCC and who, despite his little experience in the political field, has laid the foundations of a strong campaign based on medical assistance, protecting educational funds and improving working conditions.
"Gil refuses contributions from PACs because he believes the government should work for the people - not corporate special interests," explains his campaign website.
In addition, the DCCC has announced the launch of its “first Spanish-language midterm TV ad” in favor of the candidate of Latino origin.
"Democratic congressional candidate Gil Cisneros believes in the American dream because he has lived it," the ad says. "He was the first in his family to graduate from college, and he has committed himself to giving this opportunity to the students of today, and tomorrow. But Republicans in Congress are attempting to cut funds for education and [financial] aid, and they continue denying Dreamers a path to citizenship."
DCCC Hispanic Media Director Javier Gamboa said in a statement that "Latino families deserve a champion who will fight for them and their future, and that’s why Gil Cisneros’ commitment to empowering Latino students and protecting hardworking Dreamers makes him the best choice."
According to the Post, polls released by the Cisneros campaign "have shown him leading the field, with just 19 percent of the overall vote."
With military experience in the navy and a political science education from George Washington University, this candidate could be one of the key pieces for the so-called "Blue Wave" in the midterm elections this November.