Lottery Winner to Challenge Royce in California

Gil Cisneros cites incumbent’s vote on health care repeal bill

Gil Cisneros speaks last year at the dedication of the Cisneros Hispanic Leadership Institute at The George Washington University, to which he and his wife Jacki’s foundation donated $7 million.  (The George Washington University via YouTube)

A former Navy officer and millionaire lottery winner announced he will challenge California Rep. Ed Royce as a Democrat.


Gil Cisneros touted his endorsement from VoteVets, a liberal veterans group, the Los Angeles Times reported.


Cisneros was a Republican until 2008, but left the party because he said he felt the GOP had become too ideological. After his service in the Navy, he worked as a shipping and distribution manager at Frito Lay.


He and his wife won $266 million in California’s state lottery in 2010 and started the Gilbert and Jacki Cisneros Foundation, which funds scholarships for Latino students. 


Cisneros criticized Royce’s recent vote to repeal the 2010 health care law as part of the reason he is running against the Republican.


“I think there's an injustice going on in this district with Ed Royce, who hasn’t really served the community,” he said.


The number of challengers to Royce will grow to 17 on Monday as Sam Jammal, a former chief of staff to Rep. Tony Cardenas, is expected to announce his candidacy, the Orange County Record reported.


Jammal, 35, was also appointed as a special assistant in the Department of Commerce by former President Barack Obama. He was also an aide to Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and worked with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. He was chairman of the Democratic National Committee’s Latino Voter Protection Task Force in 2008.


While Cisneros currently lives in Newport Beach, which is outside the district, he and his wife plan to move to Yorba Linda to be close to his wife’s mother.


Royce winning re-election in California's 39th Congressional District by 14.5 points in 2016. But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting Royce's district.


While Republicans have an advantage in voter registration, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney won the district with only 51 percent of the vote in 2012 and Hillary Clinton won the district by 8.6 points over Donald Trump last year, according to an analysis by liberal website the Daily Kos. 


Roll Call/Inside Elections With Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Leans Republican.


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