The Buzz is the Register’s weekly political news column.
The crowd of first-time Democratic candidates who think they can beat one of Orange County’s four Republican Congress members continues to swell, fueled in part by Hillary Clinton’s wins in those GOP districts last year. Two more entries in the past week brings the combined field of Democratic challengers in the county to 17, none of whom have held elected office and only two who have run before.
Fullerton’s Sam Jammal, who plans to officially declare his challenge of Rep. Ed Royce today, July 17, will become the most recent to launch a maiden campaign. But he knows his way around Washington, D.C., and has been far more active politically than most of of the county’s challengers, including his fellow Democrats in the Royce race — Phil Janowicz and Mai Khanh Tran.
Jammal, 35, spent two years as chief of staff to Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-Pacoima, and served for nearly two years before that as a President Barack Obama appointee — a special assistant in the Department of Commerce. Prior work also includes two years as an aide to Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, and nearly two years with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. During the 2008 election, he was chairman of the Democratic National Committee’s Latino Voter Protection Task Force. The USC and George Washington Law School graduate grew up in La Mirada with a father who immigrated from Jordan and a mother from Colombia. He returned to La Mirada in 2015, when he took a job as policy director for SolarCity, a solar equipment provider that was bought by Tesla earlier this year. Jammal left Tesla last week to work full time on his campaign and moved to Fullerton earlier this year.
Jammal, whose father worked as a manager at Jack in the Box, emphasizes the needs of working-class families, especially when it comes to health care, education and jobs — areas he says the incumbent does not give proper attention.
“He’s in the community (frequently) and he’s saying reasonable things in the community,” Jammal said of Royce. “But when he gets on the plane to Washington, something changes.”