Coffee with Omar Siddiqui

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Just had coffee with Omar Siddiqui, the attorney running to overtake Dana Rohrabacher in California’s 48th District.

At the start of the morning, pre-interview, my biggest issue with Omar Siddiqui is geography. In short, Omar doesn’t technically live in the 48th District. According to a Nexis/Lexis search (the exact same Nexis/Lexis search any opposition research team will use), Omar has resided in a house in Fullerton for years. He also had addresses in La Mirada and, back in the day, Riverside. This is a problem. Potentially a huge problem. Now, when I asked him about it, Omar was—I believe—up front. He’s had an office in Costa Mesa for years and years. It’s where he spends (his words) 99.9 percent of my time. He has a gray couch that he often sleeps on. He identifies with the 48th, he feels the 48th, he loves the 48th. This, from the opening paragraph on his website bio

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Now, does this matter as an actual ability-to-represent-my-interests issue? Eh, probably not. But does it matter in an election. Yes. Not only yes—a seemingly big yes. Were I Dana Rohrabacher, running against Omar, I’d hammer this home time after time after time. I’d pay for ads and flyers that say, in the boldest letters possible, OMAR SIDDIQUI DOESN’T LIVE IN OUR DISTRICT—SO WHY SHOULD HE REPRESENT US? And while Omar will fire back with his lifetime in Orange County, his love of Orange County, the “I spent 99.9 percent of my time here” reasoning … well, it’s a toughie to tackle.

But here’s the thing: Should Omar be able to overcome this, he’s a very impressive guy; and to sit with him is to be in the presence of someone who is smart, who is engaging, who would, undoubtedly, make a strong candidate (again, if he can overcome geography). I don’t need to list the man’s biography (it’s here), but he’s both the most multifaceted and politically connected person in the race. At first I thought some of his James Comey and Barack Obama name droppings were a bit much. But, as Nexis and newspapers.com searches show, they’re legit. He has conversed with the 44th president on multiple occasions. He has worked directly with the FBI. Those are true feathers in the cap; especially when juxtaposed against the image of Rohrabacher playing footsie with Julian Assange. We have several good candidates. Successful businesspeople; well-regarded professors. But Omar’s experience is … different.

We chatted for about, oh, 50 minutes, and the conversation ranged from his identification as a Reagan Democrat (he’s a former Republican who leans more fiscally conservative on some issues) to his dismay over the Trump presidency (Omar says this is the first time he’s woken up, middle of the night, thinking politics) to the complications of running as a Muslim man with the name Omar Siddiqui in a conservative neck of the woods (he thinks people ultimately vote for policy. I tend to agree. We’re not living in Kentucky). The strength of his message is a genuine desire to work with both sides without surrendering his ideals. Omar said that if, tomorrow morning, Donald Trump pledged to support abortion rights and set aside any talk of a Muslim ban, he would applaud the move. That doesn’t mean he’d like Donald Trump—that was emphasized.

It means he’s pro-ideas more than pro-party.

I dig that.

Again, can Omar Siddiqui overcome geography? I don’t know.

Would he have my backing if he winds up a general election candidate? Absolutely.

PS: Omar was accompanied by two employees—a campaign manager and an assistant.  That was an initial turnoff, in that it just felt sorta … corporate. But, to their credit, both were lovely. Plus, after the interview I retreated to the bathroom and noticed a Texas-sized zit atop my lip (I’m eternally 12). None of the three noticeably cringed during coffee. They get huge props for that alone. 🙂

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