Should Tony Z have been included?

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I wasn’t able to attend, but yesterday afternoon there was a candidate forum for those desiring to run against Dana Rohrabacher in the 48th. The event was hosted by HB Huddle, and featured …

• Hans Keitstead

• Laura Oatman

• Harley Rouda

• Omar Siddiqui

And … eh … that’s it.

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Now, it’s certainly possible some of the other Democratic candidates were invited and simply had scheduling conflicts. I reached out to a rep of Michael Kotick, and she confirmed he, too, was not extended an opportunity (which is truly odd—because his campaign is, unlike Tony’s, genuinely in the mix). One thing I know, with certainty, is that Anthony Zarkades was not on the list. Literally, he was barred from participating.

I’m not sure how to feel about this.

On the one hand, “Tony Z.” has almost zero chance of winning. He lacks money, he lacks political experience, he can come off as rude and a bit ornery. He skin seems to be as thick as tissue. In a world where neatly pressed shirts and crisp ties seize the day, he’s a bit of a crumpled oil rag.

And yet, he’s busting ass. The guy is, clearly, smart. He has a platform. He wants this very badly, and he’s taken the necessary steps to be included. Plus, if you look at the four invitees, they all have flaws. Many still see Harley as a Republican in Democratic clothes. Laura hasn’t raised nearly enough dough to compete with Dana. The Canadian-born Hans comes off as robotic and programed. Omar doesn’t even live in the district. So, yeah, Tony is (with the exception of Boyd Roberts) the longest of long shots.

But if we simply eliminate people from participating because of funding … who are we? What are we? What do we value? The election is still more than 10 months away. At this point, truly, we should be listening to the different voices, and honoring those who want a shot.

Amen.

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