The Buzz is the Register’s weekly political news column.
Buena Park’s Julio Castaneda, a longtime Democrat, went all-in for Bernie Sanders last year, working as a “super volunteer” in central Orange County. When Hillary Clinton prevailed in the primary, the 33-year-old defected to the Green Party and ended up voting for that party’s nominee, Jill Stein.
But he became disillusioned with the Greens too, concluding that they were not a viable option and changing his registration to independent, officially known in California these days as “No Party Preference.”
Then, on May 4, he launched his own longshot challenge of Rep. Ed Royce, R-Fullerton.
“We need a real message,” said Castaneda, a business systems analyst working toward a degree in business administration at Fullerton College. “The Democrats’ message is only ‘Russia’ and ‘anti-Donald Trump.’ I want to have a very progressive message.”
When Castaneda got in the race, there was just one other challenger to Royce — businessman and former chemistry professor Phil Janowicz, a Democrat who also supported Sanders. The field has since ballooned to seven, with millions of dollars already being bankrolled. Royce himself has $3.1 million in his campaign account. Democratic businessman Andy Thorburn has put $2 million of his own money behind his bid. Two other Democrats have raised a combined $400,000 and another, who won a $266 million lottery prize in 2010, displayed his willingness to spend money on campaigns in 2016 when he and his wife gave $150,000 to Hillary Clinton PACs.
Castaneda, meanwhile, has yet to meet the $5,000 fundraising threshold that triggers the federal financial filing requirement. He has largely adopted Sanders’ platform, emphasizing the need for single-payer “Medicare for all” healthcare, free public college tuition, a $15 per hour federal minimum wage, more incentives for renewable energy and stronger programs to address homelessness. He said he’s organizing a network of Sanders volunteers to work on his race.
“I know my odds of winning are astronomical. But I’m very motivated because I know the progressive movement needs a real voice for what the people want,” Castaneda said.
Voters look like they’ll have a broad range of alternatives to Royce, who remains favored to be reelected but is considered vulnerable because Republicans have less than a 2-percentage point advantage in the district, which reaches from…