Cancer biologist Michael Masterman-Smith is joining the race to challenge Rep. Steve Knight in the Antelope Valley’s 25th Congressional District, saying it’s time for scientists to help draft healthcare policy.
“Our leaders are defining these healthcare policies and yet they themselves have no experience in healthcare,” said Masterman-Smith, 46. If he won, he would join more than a dozen medical specialists, including doctors, in Congress.
Masterman-Smith’s research includes potential medical uses of marijuana, and he is chief executive of the cannabis pharmaceutical company CA Labs, Inc.
Masterman-Smith currently lives on a boat in Marina del Rey, but is registered to vote at an address in La Habra, neither of which is in the 25th District. He said he is looking at finding a place to live in the district, which he said he wants to represent in Congress because it is at the confluence of his business interests.
“It’s a central point for my business work,” he said. “The 25th District is an area that I work out of, so it just made sense.”
Masterman-Smith has degrees from Florida State University and Pepperdine University, and postdoctorate degrees in molecular and medical pharmacology from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
He said he’s watched as more money and research poured into a healthcare system that just gets more expensive, and he’s seen less respect for scientific thought and reasoning.
“This is the first time in my life I feel my country is not treating me as a citizen because I am a scientist,” he said.
Masterman-Smith said he’s hoping his focus on healthcare policy will set him apart from the more than half a dozen other Democrats who have filed to challenge Knight, a Republican.
The district is a frequent target of Democrats, and backed Hillary Clinton for president in 2016, making it a much-desired pickup for Democrats in 2018.