Update: This story was updated at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 7 to include more recent polling information.
Former Vice President Joe Biden visited Cal State Fullerton to speak at an invitation-only event in the Titan Student Union on Thursday to show support for local Democratic congressional candidates. The event was put on by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Among the speakers was Gil Cisneros, congressional candidate for the 39th District, who took the stage to rally the room of roughly 400 people, asking them to cast their ballot in the Nov. 6 midterm elections and flip the district to blue.
The stump speech follows former President Barack Obama’s rally at the Anaheim Convention Center on Sept. 8, when he endorsed the same set of Democratic candidates: TJ Cox (CA-21), Katie Porter (CA-45), Harley Rouda (CA-48), Mike Levin (CA-49) and Cisneros.
The 39th District, which includes the city of Fullerton, became a battleground district when Republican Ed Royce, the current district representative, announced his retirement earlier this year after filling the seat for 13 terms. Democrats across the nation are targeting districts such as the 39th in an effort to secure 23 seats to gain control of the 435-member House of Representatives.
To do that, the Democrats would have to win over a large portion of the voting population that has seen low voter turnout in past elections.
In a recent Gallup survey, young voters in the United States between the ages of 18 and 29 were determined to be the least certain to vote in the upcoming election in comparison to higher age brackets.
“This was one of the reasons why it was so important to have this event here at Cal State Fullerton. We want to reach out to the students. We want to reach out to the young voters and get them involved and help them realize there are consequences when you don’t vote,” Cisneros said.
According to the latest poll by FiveThirtyEight, Cisneros has a one point lead over his opponent, Republican Young Kim. Kim is endorsed by Royce and Mimi Walters, current representative for the 45th Congressional District.
In his speech, Cisneros addressed key issues needing reform, which included education, health care, immigration and veteran rights. He also spent a portion of his time criticizing his opponent.
“Young Kim likes to talk about how she’s served this district for over 30 years, but the truth is she didn’t serve the district. She served one individual. She worked for one man (Royce) and their only job was to help him get elected,” Cisneros said.
Kim could not be reached for comment.
Cisneros said his dedication to education gave him opportunities he wouldn’t have been given otherwise, and because of it, he wants students to know he’s on their side. He said he plans to make Pell Grants more accessible to students and stop banks from taking advantage of students through loans.
Biden also spoke on the importance of education, as well as climate change, living wages, the middle class and health care. He emphasized the importance of participating in this election.
“This is the most important election you’ll ever vote in,” Biden says. “Our humanity is being tested.” pic.twitter.com/Y3kIVTtF5T
— Daily Titan (@thedailytitan) October 5, 2018
“Whether you’re a first-time voter as a student or you’ve been around a long, long time: This is the most important election you’ll ever vote in. The fabric that has always held us together, through good times and hard times is being shredded before our eyes,” Biden said.
One CSUF student in the crowd, Luke Rodriguez, said as a member of the 39th District he’s undecided about his vote for the upcoming midterm election.
“I tend to vote Republican, but I do not like Trump. I kind of want to send a message to the administration that I am not happy with what is going on. If that means a Democratic congressman then so be it,” Rodriguez, political science major, said.
Wendy Lindley, a retired (nearly) 70-year-old Superior Court judge from Orange County, was also at the event and said this is the most important election she’s ever been alive to see.
“I’ve been involved in politics since I was a college student and dropped out to protest the Vietnam War. I just don’t think that there’s ever been an election like this that truly affected the very foundations of democracy,” Lindley said. “If you fail to vote in this election it may never be recoverable.”
In California, the deadline to register to vote in the upcoming midterms is Oct. 22.