Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Cisneros Is In

Gil Cisneros has a somewhat unusual biography, as far as politicians go. To start with, his entire political career has been made possible by the $266 million he won in the lottery. That is enough money to self-fund quite a few political campaigns, especially when your target is a seat in the U.S. House. For most of his life before he won the money, he was a Republican who worked in a blue-collar job for Frito-Lay. Now that he's loaded, he's a Democrat, having been driven to re-register over the GOP becoming "too ideological." From working class and Republican to rich and Democratic is not the normal progression. Although these days, maybe it is.

In Cisneros' first foray into the political arena, in 2018, he effectively scared Ed Royce (R) into retiring, and then outpolled now-Rep. Young Kim (R-CA) to win the seat in what was then CA-39, 51.6% to 48.4%. In 2020, Cisneros and Kim had a rematch, and this time Kim came out on top, 50.6% to 49.4%. Cisneros' consolation prize was appointment as Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness in the Department of Defense, in which capacity he has been serving since August of 2021. It would seem that life as a mid-level bureaucrat is not as fun and glamorous as it's cracked up to be, however, and so Cisneros wants to relocate back to D.C. from Arlington County. To that end, he declared a third run for the House yesterday.

It would seem that Cisneros does not like his chances in a third matchup against Kim, so he's running in CA-31, the deep-blue (D+15) district being vacated by the retiring Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA). Obviously, the next person to represent that district is going to be a Democrat. However, there are quite a few members of the blue team vying for the honor. In particular, in addition to Cisneros, there is state Sen. Bob Jerry Archuleta (D), who once served as a mayor (of Pico Rivera) in the district, and whose state Senate district overlaps some with CA-31, and who has Napolitano's endorsement. There is also state Sen. Susan Rubio (D), whose state Senate district overlaps a lot with CA-31, and who is going to make abortion access a centerpiece of her campaign.

Cisneros' former congressional district barely overlaps with CA-31 at all, so he's going to start the race as something of an unknown. Obviously, that sweet, sweet lottery lucre will help to rectify that problem. He's also got the backing of Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Nanette Barragán, in a district that is 60% Latino. And he can tout his work at the Pentagon, where he's been at the center of the Pentagon's efforts to improve diversity, equity and inclusion, which means he's been a frequent Republican whipping boy. Sounds like it's going to be a barnburner to us. And don't forget, given California's jungle-primary-style system, it's entirely possible that two Democrats end up facing off in the general. (Z)

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