The Coast News Group
From left, Gibhran Jimenez, Lorna Rammon, Flo Gascon, Kathleen Steel, Wendy Woroby and Amy Riviere. Photo by Rebecca Sykes
Community San Marcos San Marcos Featured

Volunteers turn out for challenger’s campaign

SAN MARCOS — Though November is nine months away, organizers and volunteers are already planning how to get Democratic candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar elected for the 50th Congressional District in California.

A group of organizers throughout San Diego County has been volunteering since the end of last year for Campa-Najjar. More than 60 volunteers alone are working in San Marcos. Other cities in the district are working and volunteering for Campa-Najjar as well, and more people are starting to volunteer as elections are approaching.

Kathleen Steel and Flo Gascon of San Marcos are two of the main organizers of the San Marcos volunteer group for Campa-Najjar. They both knew right away they wanted to get involved with Campa-Najjar’s campaign.

“I volunteered with Indivisible and that’s when I first met (Ammar) and I got to know him really well,” Steel said. “He is perfect for this district. He listens to all and asks what concerns voters. He is not concerned with parties; he is concerned with what people care about most.”

Some issues that concern constituents are health care, immigration and jobs, which are the main issues Campa-Najjar focuses on.

“I’m running for the community that helped raise me, for my family and friends, and for voters who deserve a congressman who puts their interests ahead of special interests,” Campa-Najjar stated on his campaign website.

Campa-Najjar’s experience include working with the Obama administration for employment and training opportunities and promoting small businesses at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

According to Steel and Gascon, Campa-Najjar is the only candidate who has been knocking on doors, making phone calls and visiting rural areas to speak to people, no matter what party they are.

“At the beginning of a conversation, with some people we speak to, they say they won’t vote for Ammar,” said Gibhran Jimenez, field organizer, and analysis and researcher for Campa-Najjar’s campaign. “At the end of the conversation, we’ve had people donating money to the campaign.”

Jimenez stated Campa-Najjar’s campaign has raised $520,000 since they started in March/April 2017. The money has not come from corporations, instead from constituents, according to Jimenez.

Organizers met Feb. 8 in San Elijo Hills to discuss ways volunteers can help with this congressional race for Campa-Najjar. Tasks included voter registration, phone banks and going from door to door to educate constituents about the candidate.

Volunteers also have been going to high schools to register students to vote, including 16-year-old students to prepare them for when they are 18 and can vote. Chapters have formed on college campuses such as Grossmont, UCSD and SDSU focusing on electing Campa-Najjar.

“We’re trying to engage the young voters and with Ammar being young (29), he speaks (the young voters’) language,” Gascon said.

Campa-Najjar and Democrats Patrick Malloy and Josh Burner along with Republicans Shaymus Sayed, Andrew Zelt and possibly Darrell Issa (R-Vista) from the 49th Congressional District (who is retiring from his own district this year) have been rumored to be running against Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) for the seat.

According to Jimenez, 40 percent of registered voters in the 50th District are Republican. However, Democrats are reportedly registering twice as much.

“The district is switching. However, this isn’t about parties, this is not a partisan thing, Campa-Najjar is good for the people,” Jimenez said.

Hunter has been the representative for the 50th District since 2009. He is facing allegations of misusing hundreds of thousands of dollars of his campaign funds for his own personal use.