Politics & Policy

Can a 28-Year-Old Outsider Break Democrats’ Dominance of California’s Central Coast?

Fareed in a campaign ad (via YouTube)
Justin Fareed is not your typical congressional candidate. But this year, that may be an advantage.

In November, 28-year-old congressional candidate Justin Fareed will have the opportunity to end Democrats’ decades-long domination of the constantly changing districts across California’s central coast.

“I’m very optimistic that the electorate is looking for a new generation of leadership,” Fareed tells National Review. “What we are seeing today is Congress circumventing the big issues we face.”

As Democrat Lois Capps’s 18-year career in Congress comes to an end, donors have poured money into the race to replace her. Fareed has raised $1.2 million, and his Democratic competitor Salud Carbajal, Capps’s preferred successor, has raised $2.1 million.

“This seat was very much on the radar of the national parties. . . . This has been about politics for the Democrats,” Fareed says, arguing that they want to retain the seat without articulating a “vision for the central coast.”

Fareed played football at UCLA, worked as a legislative aide for Representative Ed Whitfield, and is now the vice president of his family’s business, Pro Band Sports Industries. While working alongside Whitfield, he focused on U.S.–Turkish relations, leading a congressional staff delegation to Turkey. He hopes to use that Middle East policy experience if elected in order to fix the mess created by the Obama administration, which he argues, “very well may be the worst administration as foreign policy goes in our nation’s history.”

Fareed is also concerned about the increasing centralization of executive power. “First and foremost we need to have a president who is willing to work with Congress,” he says. When questioned about the reality of earning the president’s signature on the REINS (Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny) Act, which increases congressional oversight of significant executive-branch regulations, he says, “I’m fairly optimistic that if we get the right people into Congress we could lead that directive.”

‘First and foremost we need to have a president who is willing to work with Congress.’ — Justin Fareed

Getting the “right” people into Congress has always been difficult, of course. The huge advantages of incumbency continue to ensure that there is minimal turnover from Congress to Congress. Last cycle, 96 percent of sitting representatives and senators were reelected. Fareed would like to change that. “Many of my opponents spent decades running for one office and then the next,” he says with exasperation. “In my humble opinion, I don’t believe that this was meant to be a career job.”

#related#And yet, in order to change the system, Fareed will need help from many of the same career politicians who embody it. He has compiled a long list of heavy-hitting endorsements, from Speaker Paul Ryan to House majority leader Kevin McCarthy to Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. He is one of eleven Republican candidates nationally receiving help from the Young Guns program, which was founded by Ryan, McCarthy, and former House majority leader Eric Cantor to help elect like-minded Republicans to Congress. Since 2010, the program has helped elect more than 100 favored candidates for House seats.

Fareed is hoping to become another, and to bring “old-school values with a new-school vision” to Capitol Hill.

— Austin Yack is a William F. Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism at the National Review Institute.

Austin Yack — Austin Yack is a William F. Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism at the National Review Institute and a University of California, Santa Barbara alumnus.

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