OCEANSIDE — On Sunday July 15, more than 100 enthusiastic people attended the opening of Democratic candidate for the 49th Congressional District Mike Levin’s new campaign headquarters. The crowd was made up of average citizens, campaign staff, Democratic candidates for other offices, activists, an Oceanside City Council member and volunteers.
The office, located at 125 South Tremont, replaces a Vista site. “That wasn’t the best location for us,” Levin explained. “We have an office already in San Clemente and we’re opening another one in Solana Beach on the 29th, so this Oceanside site, being centrally located between the two, will be the ‘nerve center’ for the campaign.”
After an hour of socializing and networking, Kyle Krahel-Frolander, the campaign’s field director for the Oceanside office, spoke briefly about how the general election campaign will differ from the primary. “We’ll be reaching out to a broader universe in general,” he said. “Working-class issues: jobs, education, health care and Social Security will be our focus.”
Levin spoke next and began his remarks by saying: “We had one heck of a primary and now we’re all in this together. We have a common adversary in the White House and Congress and we must work together to stand up for our values.” He went on to talk about how our differences strengthen us as a nation, and said that America is still seen as the land of opportunity for immigrants, a place where anyone who’s willing to work hard can make it. (Levin’s mother’s parents emigrated to the U.S. from Mexico. His father’s relatives were Jews from Austria who found refuge in America during World War II.)
“We’re being eroded from within,” Levin said. “It’s important of course to talk about protecting the environment and preventing gun violence and saving Social Security and Medicare and creating clean jobs, but this is a time when we must be concerned with upholding our democratic institutions.”
Sensing that the crowd was fired-up, Levin told them “… this is what grassroots is all about.” He said that his Republican opponent Diane Harkey, who made it on the November ballot thanks in great part to $5 million being spent during the primary campaign by the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson and others, is already receiving donations from corporations and wealthy conservative donors. “We will not accept PAC corporate money,” he said to cheers. “We won the primary because of our direct field program, knocking on doors and manning phone banks and that’s how we’ll win the general.”
Levin then took several questions from the audience. To a query about his work as an environmental attorney who’d been portrayed in the primary election as having worked for Exxon he said: “I worked to clean up emissions from an Exxon plant in Arkansas, I never worked for Exxon.”
When asked whether he’d reached out to the Harkey campaign to discuss scheduling debates or town hall meetings, he answered: “I indicated on the Voice of San Diego and NBC7 that I was willing any time and as often as convenient for the Harkey campaign to debate. There’s no incumbent in this race, which is why it’s important for the voters to get to know us. I haven’t heard anything back from Harkey’s campaign yet.”
“We’re in one of the most competitive races in the country,” Levin said after being asked what he thought his chances were of flipping the seat Democratic that Rep. Darrell Issa had held for nine terms. “But Oceanside is purple, rapidly changing to blue.” He acknowledged his pollster, in from D.C., standing in the back and told the crowd that the first poll, taken at the end of June, showed him leading Harkey by 3 percentage points.
Following City Councilwoman Esther Sanchez’s endorsement, volunteers were given scripts to use when talking to voters, and after gathering together for a group photo, nearly 20 went out to knock on doors, while seven stayed in the office and made calls.