Senate Candidate Kevin de Leon Makes Campaign Fundraiser Stop in Long Beach

Like so many candidates before him seeking endorsements and support, U.S. senate candidate Kevin de Leon journeyed to Long Beach Monday morning for a fundraiser hosted by some of the city’s elected officials.

“There’s very few people in our state that exemplify what the country is all about and that have so much passion for helping working people, for helping just make the state be a great place to live,” said Mayor Robert Garcia, who hosted the event alongside Vice Mayor Rex Richardson, Councilmembers Lena Gonzalez and Roberto Uranga, as well as Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) School Board President Megan Kerr.

With three weeks left until the statewide primary election on June 5 that pits de Leon against fellow Democrat and seasoned incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein, among 30 other candidates, the stop in Long Beach was one of multiple on his list focused on garnering support in Southern California.

Photos by Stephanie Rivera.

Talking to an intimate group of a couple dozen supporters at Agency ETA, an advertising agency in downtown Long Beach, de Leon aimed to distinguish himself from his main opponent, who not only has over 25 years of experience as a senator, but has also scored endorsements from fellow politicians including former President Barack Obama.

De Leon was critical of Feinstein’s centrist views and criticized what he said was her tendency to change her positions on topics important to Californians, including immigration reform.

As president pro tem of the California state senate, de Leon has been a vocal supporter of immigration reform, having authored Senate Bill 54, part of the California Values Act which prohibits municipalities from assisting federal agencies in deportations and prohibits the establishment of religious or ethnic registries.

“When we have the largest number of immigrants in the nation that are living in California our senior senator should be doing the right thing by forcefully pushing immigration reform—sadly we haven’t seen that,” de Leon told the Post.

His position on medicinal cannabis is what made Adam Hijazi—the general manager of two dispensaries in Long Beach—a supporter of de Leon and a past fundraising host for the candidate as president of the Long Beach Collective Association, a trade association composed of cannabis businesses in the city.

“I’m a big proponent of medical cannabis,” said Hijazi. “We’ve seen that he’s been pragmatic about it and willing to have a conversation and move it along. That conversation on a federal level is huge.”

De Leon acknowledged the cannabis industry’s position in the state as a job generator and economic stimulant. Today, the state Department of Tax and Fee Administration announced that tax revenue from the cannabis industry totaled $60.9 million in the first quarter of 2018.

Feinstein has long opposed cannabis use and, according to de Leon and his staff, was misquoted in a recent article that stated she supported it.

In an email provided to the Post from her campaign staff, Feinstein said she supports the legalization of medical marijuana and recognizes California’s legalization of recreational marijuana, adding that the state needs to ensure rules are in place to prevent impaired driving and youth access, similar to alcohol. A year ago, she introduced a bill that would expand research into the medical benefits of cannabis. It has not passed the House or Senate since then.

She also noted that she is open to looking into legislation currently being drafted regarding federal enforcement of state cannabis laws.

“Federal law enforcement agents should not arrest Californians who are adhering to California law,” Feinstein said in a statement. “I look forward to reviewing the text of Senator Gardner’s legislation to determine whether it’s the best path forward.”

Ultimately, de Leon said he wants to provide Californians with a new voice reflective of today’s diversity.

“Whether its universal health care, immigration reform, climate change, the environment, we need people now who won’t be on the sidelines but rather on the frontlines, who will use their cumulative political capital forcefully to improve the human condition and not just be part of the establishment authority,” de Leon told the Post. “These are very difficult times in our nation’s history and now we need someone who is going to stand up for California values not capitulate to Donald Trump.”

Disclaimer: Cindy Allen, publisher of the Long Beach Post, is also the owner of Agency ETA.

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Stephanie Rivera is the community engagement editor for the Long Beach Post. After graduating from CSULB with a degree in journalism, Stephanie worked for Patch Latino and City News Service before coming to the Long Beach Post in 2015.