(By David Kim / The author is a lawyer who ran for Congress twice)
It’s been around six months since I last ran for U.S. Congress in California’s 34th Congressional District, and it’s been awhile since I’ve said hello to many of you who are reading. It was a great experience and opportunity to truly inspire, empower and bring hope to a lot of people in our district, in our community, and to many others living outside of the district, be it in our country, or even another country, like our homeland of Korea on the other side of the world.
I truly and humbly thank you for your support, from the bottom of my heart. Although there were many setbacks, hurdles and hoops that my campaign and I had to jump through, because it’s definitely not an easy feat in any instance, to run as a challenger for office, against an Establishment incumbent, who’s backed by more corporate PAC money than a majority of members in Congress, there were many occasions of victories, wins and breakthroughs for us as well.
For one thing, what worked for us, given that we came so close this time, by winning 49% of the total general election votes, and only losing by 3,025 votes (which means that had we simply gained 1,513 additional votes from our district of 700,000+ constituents, and 300,000+ registered voter-constituents, we would have won!), was our heart, passion and energy for a new kind of politics, one centered on the people, on our communities, where we’re listening to, engaging with and co-governing with members and leaders of our communities, in fighting for a future, tomorrow and present moment where we don’t have to constantly worry about making ends meet, saving up for a needed expense, cause, or call it quits to a dream or dreams that have kept us going, in having us feel a sense of purpose and calling to do more and be more in life.
So many politicians and elected officials are barely legislating and when they do, they’re simply co-sponsoring, supporting or commenting on legislation that their party leadership, officials and corporate donors, from top down, are pushing forth in Congress, committees and DC, and leaving out entirely the process of “representing” the people, which means listening to and taking the problems, concerns and ideas of the people and what they truly want their representatives to legislate on and bring back home to their communities, neighborhoods and families.
Thus, it was to no surprise we had constituents, supporters and volunteers from all across the aisle, be them progressive, liberal, leftist, conservative, moderate, libertarian or non-party, and from all ethnic and diverse communities, come out to vote, support and donate to us.
What didn’t work for us was not having the funds and team support to be able to successfully challenge an Establishment incumbent, who outraised us by 10x, given his corporate PAC money, and who was resourceful to use his connections and money to launch attack ads, mailers and smear campaigns against me, by having Congressmembers like Congressmember Judy Chu and Congressmember Jamie Raskin pro-actively campaign against me, and accuse me of playing campaign tricks in the last days leading to the general election or saying that if elected I’d be a threat to American democracy, or by fearmongering by spreading misinformation and lies about me and our campaign, as facts to all constituents in our district.
Whenever anyone living in our district searched for “Nury Martinez”, “Gil Cedillo”, “Kevin Deleon” or anything November 2022 General Election related, in the weeks leading to the November 2022 General Election, Congressman Gomez’s digital Google ad attacking me as a liar, always popped up at the top of Google search results.
This is definitely something that probably hurt us, and muddied up the bright, positive message of hope, power and love that our constituents greatly needed, and that all of us need right now, in the desperate times that we’re in.
What would I do differently if I decided to run again? A lot. But first, I’d make sure that we have a chance at winning, because I know firsthand how grueling a campaign is, and don’t take lightly or for granted, the support by campaign staff, volunteers, donors and constituents, because we’re all busy, just barely trying to survive in this world called life, and that would entail really crunching the numbers, looking at the data, and seeing if there is a pathway to victory that is based with strategy.
So, unlike in my prior run in 2020 where we won 47% of the total general election votes, and in my prior run in 2022 where we won 49% of the total general election votes, I’d hire at least one to two trusted, knowledgeable and well-experienced political consultants who have integrity and are aligned with my values and vision, and secondly, I’d work to ensure that my daily schedule allows me more time to focus on call time, fundraising and creating a support team that can help fully tap into the potential resources and networks we have to abundantly fund and power our campaign to the utmost, because should we decide to run again, we’ll need to assume that Congressman Gomez will put up his last fight to keep his seat.
Why would I even run again? Because it’s business as usual for corporate-backed career politicians like Congressman Gomez, where nothing’s changed, status quo is preserved and more people continue to suffer and fall into poverty, and daily struggle of surviving life, and things must change. Status quo will not disrupt itself. Our families, our youth, our small businesses, and our communities aren’t being fought for, and it’s about time we stop acquiescing to the Establishment and elect leaders who will truly fight for all of us. Never stop believing. Keep your hope alive.