LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jimmy Gomez is going to have a hard time keeping some of his promises.
The liberal California Democrat who easily captured a vacant U.S. House seat on Tuesday goes to a Republican-controlled Congress with little interest in his campaign trail talk of debt-free college, fighting climate change and enacting universal health coverage.
He acknowledged the obvious in the era of President Donald Trump when he said “we are the resistance.”
With his victory over fellow Democrat Robert Lee Ahn in the 34th Congressional District, Gomez replaces another Hispanic Democrat who held the seat for years, Xavier Becerra, who stepped down after being appointed state attorney general.
He’ll go to Washington with a similar, left-leaning agenda that clashes with much of what the White House is trying to do.
Asked about Trump at a May forum, Gomez said the Republican president “ran on a platform of division, hatred and bigotry.” As a congressman, he said, he would “take a hard stand” against the administration.
Gomez wants to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, while Trump is trying to energize a faded coal industry and plans to withdraw from a global climate change agreement.
The White House insists that plans for the president’s border wall are on track despite resistance from Congress; Gomez wants to stop funding for the project.
Gomez has promised to push for universal health coverage, while congressional budget analysts say Republican legislation remaking the nation’s health care system would leave 24 million without coverage by 2026.
In joining minority Democrats in the House, his role is almost certain to be more about stymieing Trump proposals than delivering his own, which face a dubious future with the GOP in charge.
“As we confront the cruelty and recklessness of the Trump agenda in Congress, Jimmy Gomez will be a powerful new voice for the values and the dreams of working people,” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.
When the 42-year-old Gomez talks about immigration, it’s an issue close to home. His parents and four siblings are immigrants from Mexico, and he often speaks of their struggles in their adopted country.
He grew up in Riverside, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles, and went on to earn a master’s degree from Harvard University. The former union organizer emerged as the establishment pick in his race against Ahn, winning endorsements from Gov. Jerry Brown and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
His challenges will include spreading the prosperity that can be witnessed in the turnaround in downtown L.A.
New high-rises, lofts and trendy restaurants dot downtown, but dilapidated buildings and homeless encampments are never far from sight. Nearly half the population in the district, considered among the poorest in the state, is foreign-born.
Unofficial returns show Gomez won 60 percent of the 33,000 votes counted in the low-turnout election.
He was backed by nurses and other unions known for getting out the vote, and supporters of Bernie Sanders were behind him. And Gomez was a more familiar name to voters — his state Assembly district overlaps with parts of the congressional district.
“I’m going to actually take this fight and make sure our values are protected,” Gomez said at a May forum. “I’m never going to back down.”