Democrat Gil Cisneros, running for Congress in California’s 39th congressional district, is facing new questions about his record, especially his apparent flip-flop on the issue of “Medicare for All.”
Cisneros, 47, is a Navy veteran and Frito-Lay manager who won $266 million in the lottery in 2010 (he opted to take a lump sum of $165 million, before taxes). He only moved into the district in 2017 and told Roll Call that he had decided to challenge Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) because of Royce’s vote to repeal Obamacare. (Royce later announced his retirement, making the race in the 39th district an open contest.)
Recently, Cisneros overcame an allegation of sexual misconduct that had dogged him since the primary. His accuser, fellow Democrat Meslissa Fazli, claimed he had propositioned her in exchange for a campaign donation. She stuck to her story as late as mid-September, as Republicans began using her claims in attack ads. But last week, after a meeting with Cisneros, she withdrew her claims, calling them a “misunderstanding.” (She told Los Angeles-area Fox 11 she was not paid to recant.)
Meanwhile, critics have begun pointing to inconsistencies in Cisneros’s record. The Washington Free Beacon reported on Thursday that Cisneros had once supported “Medicare for All” and a single-payer, government-run healthcare system. Now, however, he has backed away from that position, retreating to the safer posture of supporting Obamacare.
The Free Beacon also reported on Wednesday that despite his environmentalist policies, Cisneros had invested in a gold mining company that was fined for polluting rivers in Argentina with cyanide.
Other problems go beyond mere inconsistency. In April, Cisneros joined fellow Democrats at a town hall meeting sponsored by left-wing billionaire Tom Steyer in supporting California’s “sanctuary state” laws, which local communities have opposed throughout Orange County. (The district includes parts of Orange County, as well as parts of Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties).
Cisneros has been trailing Republican Young Kim, a former state assemblywoman, in most polls. A recent Monmouth University poll concluded that Kim was “more in touch, [and] better liked” than Cisneros. But Democrats are hoping that Cisneros can mobilize Hispanic voters in the “majority-minority” district. The Hill reported Thursday that “21.2 percent of the primary voters [in Southern California] were Latino, compared to 13.6 percent in the midterm primary for 2014.”
The 39th is one of seven California districts that Democrats are targeting, where voters chose Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in 2016, but where the local congressional representative is a Republican. If Democrats can flip most of those seven districts, they will be closer to winning the two dozen they need to take the House — and potentially re-install Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as speaker.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.