The College Democrats at UCI held a candidate forum on November 6 with the 4 candidates running for Mimi Walters’ seat in the 45th Congressional district. Over 200 people attended. I spoke to people who had never been involved in politics and didn’t even know who their representative was last year, but now are active and engaged.
The President (Aya Labanieh) and Vice President (Cassius Rutherford) of the UCI College Democrats were engaging and articulate. Keep an eye out for them – they are the future.
The 45th is a competitive district for the first time in a generation. And the fight will be against the conservative superpacs. A straw poll was performed at the end, but the results were only released to the campaigns. We probably won’t hear about them.
The 4 candidates are:
Brian Forde (former Senior Technology advisor to Obama)
Kia Hamadanchy (former staff member for Senators Sherrod Brown and Tom Harkin)
Dave Min (UCI Law Professor and former Associate Director of the Center for American Progress)
Katie Porter (UCI Law Professor and associate of Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris)
What can I say except we are lucky to have such incredibly qualified candidates. And they would each bring something unique to the office. Three of the four are 1st generation American, children of immigrants. They are poised to represent our diverse district.
Instead of detailing all the questions and responses, I am going to summarize the most notable moments for me from each candidate. If you want more details, feel free to contact me.
This is not the first time I saw them, and when I needed to cast my vote at the end, I really struggled. They are all worthy. I will continue to watch them and see if one emerges for me. But I must say, you can’t go wrong with any of them. And as a comparison to Mimi, each one is a huge step forward.
All candidates agreed on the following:
Need to flip the house
Need gun control, close gun show loopholes and ban assault weapons (Note that Mimi votes with and takes money from the NRA. She supports the bill on concealed weapons reciprocity.)
Reduce the $1.4 billion student loan debt
Pledge to support the ultimate Democratic candidate
Make DACA law; need immigration reform with pathway to citizenship
Pro Choice, LGBT rights, and equal pay for women (Mimi voted against the Fair Paycheck Act, and is anti-Choice)
Brian Forde:I am encouraged by Brian. He is just the kind of candidate that I think we need – young, energetic, technically knowledgeable to prepare the country for the future. He commented that the average age of a person in congress is 72!!!! We need change and youth. He fits the bill. He is concerned with fake news and social media, and he has the knowledge to address it. He commented that Orange County is ground zero for flipping the House, and that everything Obama stood for is being attacked. He insisted that, as all cars are registered, all guns need to be registered, but right now, that is not allowed. He believes there is a civic re-awakening and we need to give young people something to believe in and be inspired by. We should start by explaining the issues. (As an aside, when I tutor my college students, of which many are returning adults, their lack of knowledge about the issues and belief in Facebook news is appalling!) As for immigration – “America’s identity welcomes everyone.” In supporting #METOO he noted that women’s reduced wages impact everyone, as it impacts their families.
Kia Hamadanchy:I was most impressed with Kia. He is genuine, sincere, and though I doubt he has a good chance of winning, I liked his straight-forward approach. Though soft-spoken, I connected most with him. He is running because of the Muslim ban. He believes Trump is a symptom and not the problem. He supports debt-free college and single payer health care. He noted that Saudi Arabi and Yemen are the only two countries with more guns per capita than the US. “Not good company to be in.” He believes the 2nd amendment should be subject to “reasonable restrictions.” As to inspiring young voters, he thinks they need a reason to care. They were inspired by Obama, but now they are disillusioned. We need to protect the American dream and the Dreamers.
Dave Min:Dave is becoming more comfortable every time I see him. But there is a hint of arrogance that’s creeping out that wasn’t there before. Maybe he needs to do that to project strength. He is very smart and knowledgeable about the issues. And he has a well-organized grass roots campaign. He had lots of volunteers there supporting him. He believes grass roots is the way to go, and getting out into the community and communicating our shared values. His wife is a domestic violence professor and expert and is an extreme benefit to his campaign. He believes the 2nd amendment is not an “absolute” right. He believes the current immigration policy is morally and economically “stupid.” The top STEM students are not coming to the US and it will ultimately hurt our economy and ability to innovate. He describes himself as a feminist, and points out that sexual harassment is endemic in our society and we need a cultural shift. “The 45th District is a bellweather and we must win it to take back the House and stop Trump.”
Katie Porter:Katie is probably considered the front-runner. She has the endorsement of Elizabeth Warren and worked with Kamala Harris. Though I want to support a woman, I struggle because she appears to be a one-issue candidate. Her strength is as a consumer advocate fighting for financial reforms. And though this is obviously important, the tone of the country is focused on broader social and economic issues. She would have been a star during the financial crisis, but now we need inspiration and not just technical expertise. I do trust her and still think she is a great candidate. She commented that Trump has pitted us against each other and that we now have anxiety about life events instead of hope. “We need an economy that works for all of us.” She supports campaign finance reform and hasn’t taken any money from Big Pharma or Energy. To inspire young voters, we must give them a reason to believe in Democrats. We must champion opportunities and address college costs. They must believe their voice and vote matters.