In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race. The update -- recently published -- looks at political and demographic trends through the 2018 midterm.
Progressive internet personality Cenk Uygur wants to take his trash-talking attitude to the halls of Congress, launching a bid for the California seat recently vacated by former Rep. Katie Hill (D-CA).
But activists in the district say Uygur will be dogged by the many inflammatory remarks he’s made in the past about women and minority groups—and they fear his controversial reputation could squander Democrats’ chances to retain a hotly contested district.
Uygur has become a hero for some progressive Democrats as a co-founder of The Young Turks, a left-wing video site. But voters in California’s 25th District may be less thrilled when they learn about many of Uygur’s past remarks, which include calling women genetically “flawed” because not enough women wanted to sleep with him.
Zakia Kator, a progressive activist and Afghan refugee who lives in the district, said Uygur and his Young Turks video network helped inspire her to get involved in politics and work to elect Hill and other Democrats in the purple district.
But when Kator found out last week that Uygur himself planned to run for the seat, she said her heart sank. Uygur’s campaign is headquartered in Newport Beach, California, far from the district.
Kator, who backs [Assembly member Christy] Smith, fears that Uygur could split the Democratic vote and prevent any Democrat from making it through the all-party primary into the two-candidate runoff.
“I’ve never once seen Cenk at anything,” Kator said. “He’s truly a carpetbagger. Nobody knows him, other than the people like me who actually listen to his show.”
Uygur, a Turkish-American, has also been skeptical in the past of the Armenian genocide. While Uygur now acknowledges that it happened, his previous stance could be another stumbling block for him in the district, according to Casselberry.
“We have a significant Armenian population in Southern California, it’s one of our largest minorities,” said Casselberry, the president of the Simi Valley Democratic Club. “It’s really troubling that he didn’t consider that.”