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Socialist Jose Cortes announces run in new Calif. 51st Congressional District

Jose Cortes, a socialist candidate for U.S. Congress in 2022, filed to run in California’s new 51st Congressional District (CA51) on Jan. 3. After previously running as a Peace and Freedom Party candidate in CA50, the change comes after redistricting in California following the 2020 U.S. census. Cortes’ 2020 campaign earned more votes than any other independent or third party candidate in the race.

Cortes’ 2022 House of Representatives campaign is already endorsed by South Bay Union School District president and candidate for state superintendent of public instruction Marco Amaral, the Peace and Freedom Party, the Green Party of San Diego County and others. Cortes is a longtime member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation and a leader in local struggles against war, racist police terror and housing injustice. 

Marco Amaral denouncing the innocent verdict for Kyle Rittenhouse. Liberation photo

Instead of facing off against incumbent far-right Republican Darrell Issa, Cortes will now be running against billionaire heiress and current CA53 representative Sara Jacobs. The statewide midterm primary elections are on June 7.

For working class representation in power

Though the campaign has its sights set on winning the seat, Cortes and volunteers say their main goal is to intervene in the electoral sphere by exposing the current system and showing voters that a socialist, working-class alternative to the two political parties exists.

During a campaign volunteer orientation on Jan. 8, Cortes said: “I’m running because as a former Qualcomm janitor and current health insurance worker I see people being ground up like meat by this capitalist system. We say no more! Now is the time to build a movement demanding basic human dignity for all workers.”

Cortes and other PSL members participating in a campaign to demand funding to clean the Tijuana River Valley, which was ultimately successful. Liberation photo

Right now, campaign volunteers are gathering signatures to get Cortes on the ballot. They have from Jan. 3 to Feb. 9 to gather some 1,300 signatures. When Liberation News asked about the scale of this challenge, Cortes’ 2020 campaign manager Juliana Musheyev replied, “I absolutely think it can be done. I’m pretty confident that it will be done because I know how dedicated and organized our volunteers are.”

Musheyev continued, “Since we don’t receive funding from wealthy donors and corporations, we depend on these signatures to offset the cost of getting on the ballot. Each signature chips away at the fee. Many of the campaign volunteers have full time jobs and family obligations, but we are dedicating our evenings and weekends to going door-to-door and standing outside of busy shopping centers.”

A necessary intervention

The decision to run in CA51 is not arbitrary. After the Democratic and Republican parties both failed to end the pandemic and prevent mass death, Cortes hopes to highlight how neither faux progressivism, warmongering or xenophobic scapegoating are answers to the problems facing San Diego County’s working class.

The Peace and Freedom Party candidate told Liberation News, “The way forward is through the collective organization and struggle of the working class. Society must urgently be reorganized on a socialist basis!”

The current front runner for the race, Sara Jacobs, is the granddaughter of Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs. Sarah Jacobs worked in the U.S. State Department under John Kerry and was involved in the Obama administration’s imperialist campaigns in East and West Africa. In 2015, Jacobs became part of Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy team during her presidential campaign. Following the defeat of the Clinton campaign, Jacobs ran in the 49th and 53rd Congressional Districts, winning the 53rd District in 2020. 

Jacobs is an advocate for campaign finance reform, despite 90.14% of her 2020 congressional campaign being funded by her family’s fortune. Jacobs is also a vocal supporter of the U.S. imperialist war and occupation in Syria.

The Cortes for Congress campaign is fighting for the end of imperialism, poverty, and all forms of oppression and exploitation. Rather than proposing economic or military war on people thousands of miles away, Cortes advocates friendship with workers around the world and works to build a united front against fascism and for positive social change.

Cortes at a Teamsters Local 542 picket line. Liberation photo

Jose Cortes is running on a five point program:

  1. Housing for all, constitutionally guarantee all basic necessities and de-privatize utilities. 
  2. Medicare for All, constitutionally guarantee access to quality healthcare of all kinds.
  3. End the “endless wars,” close all military bases and bring all the troops home.
  4. Defund and demilitarize the police, jail killer cops, and abolish the prison industrial complex.
  5. Guarantee full rights for all immigrants, abolish ICE and the Dept. of Homeland Security.

You can sign up to get involved with the campaign here. Follow the campaign on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook: @cortes4congress.

Featured image: Jose Cortes at a march PSL organized in response to the Rittenhouse verdict. Liberation photo

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