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MILLENNIAL CANDIDATES

Cameron Gharabiklou (standing, center), lieutenant governor candidate, at a debate in Carson, Calif. on April 28, 2018

A big day for California is right around the corner. On June 5th the California Primary Elections are being held and voters will take to the polls to exercise their voice in what are historically low-interest midterm elections. This year however, polls are forecasting that voter turnout in California will be high; people now more than ever are fired up about politics – and not just voters, but a fresh set of candidates too.

While household names and heavy hitter corporate-funded candidates are spending big bucks to make sure they are heard, there is a horde of lesser-known rising-star candidates swarming onto the political scene

There is no shortage of multifaceted candidates entering local, state and federal races. And while household names and heavy hitter corporate-funded candidates are spending big bucks to make sure they are heard, there is a horde of lesser-known rising-star candidates swarming onto the political scene and offering a compelling alternative to the establishment candidates.

One of those candidates is Cameron Gharabiklou (“Cameron for California”), the youngest of the lieutenant governor candidates who launched his campaign with a fiery and inspirational video, sleek branding and heavy digital presence. He is also the only democratic candidate among the 11 running to reject any corporate, PAC or special interest dollars, something that has been increasingly important to voters. He is part of the next-generation of democratic millennial candidates that are bold and brash, promising to push back against the Trump administration.

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Gharabiklou is not alone in his progressive “next-gen” campaign and lofty political endeavors; he is just one of several young hopeful democrats contending for highly competitive elected positions in California. Others include 33-year-old Vivek Viswanathan, running for State Treasurer, and Ryan Khojasteh, running for Congress in California’s 12th Congressional District who will barely make the age requirement, turning 25 years of age in November, just five days before the election.

Viswanathan has implored some unique attention-grabbing tactics of his own, running – literally running – across the state, over 500 miles from San Francisco to San Diego to learn firsthand from voters while documenting his journey along the way. He too is a candidate not taking a dime from corporate or special interest money, and leading with that message.

Perhaps waging the most daunting campaign, Khojasteh, a law school student, first-generation son of an Iranian immigrant, is challenging the well-known Rep. Nancy Pelosi. But don’t let his age fool you. As we have seen recently (and if you need a refresh just recall the Parkland students) age does not have a bearing on good ideas, political understanding and ability to rally and lead. Perhaps what this state needs is young blood with bright ideas, void of corporate influence to push our state - the fifth largest economy in the world - to new heights.

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Anna Keeve