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Congressional races

Navy veteran/lottery winner to challenge Orange County Rep. Ed Royce for Congress

 (Gil Cisneros for Congress campaign)
(Gil Cisneros for Congress campaign)

Orange County Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) has picked up another election challenger. Philanthropist and Navy veteran Gil Cisneros, a Democrat, has entered the race to unseat Royce in the 39th Congressional District.

A statement announcing his run also touted the endorsement of VoteVets, a liberal veterans advocacy group.

Cisneros, 46, is a former shipping and distribution manager at Frito-Lay who won a lottery jackpot of $266 million with his wife in 2010. Since then, the couple has started two nonprofits focused on education for Latino students and established scholarship programs in their names.

"I think there's an injustice going on in this district with Ed Royce, who hasn't really served the community," Cisneros said, pointing to Royce's vote in favor of repealing Obamacare.

While defending healthcare would be his top priority, Cisneros said, if elected he would focus more efforts on improving education. 

Cisneros lives in Newport Beach, about 20 miles outside of Royce's district, but says he and his wife plan to move soon to Yorba Linda, within the district, to be closer to her mother.

A registered Republican until 2008, Cisneros said he switched parties because he thought the GOP was becoming too ideological.

"This is a diverse country that we live in and we need to be inclusive. And right now I don't think the Republican Party is being very inclusive."

Cisneros joins two other Democratic challengers to Royce — pediatrician Mai Khanh Tran and education consultant and former chemistry professor Phil Janowicz — as well as independent candidate Julio Castañeda.

Royce's seat is one of several Republican-held districts being targeted by Democrats in 2018, in part because Hillary Clinton won there in last fall's presidential election. 

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