Surrounded by supporters Saturday morning, San Diego Council President Georgette Gómez kicked off her campaign for U.S. Congress, to replace retiring Rep. Susan Davis in 2020.
Davis, a 10-term incumbent, surprised many earlier this month when she announced plans to forego a re-election bid for seat representing the 53rd Congressional District.
Gómez is the fifth candidate to enter the race to succeed Davis, joining Democrats Jose Caballero, Joaquín Vázquez, Sara Jacobs, and Republican Famela Ramos.
“My mission and passion have always been serving our community, and that’s who I’ll fight for in Washington, DC,” said Gómez at a rally Saturday.
“We’ve got to take our country back from Trump, but we have a bigger job than just standing up to the politics of hate and division. In Congress, I’ll continue working to make a real difference in working people’s lives by fighting for healthcare for all, more infrastructure funding for San Diego, and the affordable housing our community desperately needs.”
Gómez, a longtime community organizer, is popular among progressives and has experienced a quick rise in San Diego politics since being elected to office in 2016. She became chair of the Metropolitan Transit System board in January 2018 and 11 months later was elected city council president, allowing her to set the council’s agenda and advance new transportation and housing policies.
Gómez is taking a risk by turning her eyes toward Congress and leaving a four-year term on City Council on the table.
Gómez unveiled endorsements from State Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins, State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, and neighboring U.S. Rep. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego.
An unset field adds uncertainty to the race, as do the strengths of some of her opponents, most notably Jacobs.
Jacobs lacks Gómez’s local profile; much of her career experience comes from outside of San Diego. She has worked at UNICEF, the United Nations and as a contractor for the State Department.
She has the benefit of already having mounted a campaign on the scale of a congressional bid. Jacobs ran for a seat representing the 49th District last year, ultimately placing third in the primary, 1.7 percentage points behind eventual general election winner Rep. Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano.
When Gómez won her race for the City of San Diego’s 9th District in 2016 about 36,000 voters cast ballots in that general election. That same year nearly 297,000 voters cast ballots in the race for the 53rd Congressional District.
Jacobs, the granddaughter of Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs, also brings significant financial resources to the race. During her run for the 49th District seat, Jacobs spent more than $2 million in personal funds — in addition to $800,000 raised — in support of her candidacy.
In the 53rd Congressional District registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans, 184,464 to 94,421. The district includes communities north of Interstate 8, from Linda Vista to El Cajon, and areas south of the freeway, including Mission Hills, areas around Balboa Park, parts of Mid-City, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Spring Valley and Chula Vista.