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2018 electionCongressional races

New challenger for Rep. Ed Royce kicks off race with a $2-million loan to his campaign

 (Handout from Thorburn campaign)
(Handout from Thorburn campaign)

Villa Park health insurance executive Andy Thorburn is entering the 39th Congressional District race against Rep. Ed Royce, and he's loaned his campaign $2 million to get started.

The Democrat's $2-million personal loan gives him a war chest far greater than anyone else in the race, except for Royce, who had $3.1 million on hand at the end of last month.

“I’ve always been a loudmouth about politics,” Thorburn, 73, said in an interview. He said he’d thought about running a few times, but didn’t have time while juggling his business.

President Trump’s election changed that.

“You get to the point where you just get so frustrated you say what am I going to do,” he said.

Thorburn was raised in New Jersey and went to college in Pennsylvania. He taught English at a high school in Newark, N.J., then worked in leadership at the American Federation of Teachers.

He was sentenced to 30 days in jail for contempt of court during a strike for better teacher wages in 1970, something he cites as a life-changing moment in a campaign video accompanying his announcement.

Thorburn later left teaching for insurance. He is director of strategic planning at Orange County-based Global Benefits Group Inc., an international health insurance company in which he bought a controlling stake of in 2005.

He expects healthcare to be a prominent issue in the campaign, and he said he wants the country to keep the Affordable Care Act in place and to see it move toward single payer healthcare.

“I've been in the health insurance business since '99 and I’ve seen it operate all around the world," Thorburn said. “I can tell you from firsthand knowledge this system is not efficient.”

Thorburn was previously registered with his party affiliation as "decline to state." He became a registered Democrat a month ago. He says he has always voted for Democrats.

The Villa Park address at which he's registered was drawn into Rep. Mimi Walters' district in 2010, four miles outside of Royce's 39th District.

A handful of Democrats have announced bids against Royce, a 13-term Republican reelected in November with 57% of the vote. Hillary Clinton beat Trump in the district by more than nine points, and Democrats are hoping the heavily Asian and Latino district might be trending toward Democrats.

3:27 p.m.: This post was updated to reflect that Thorburn has changed his registration to Democrat from decline to state.

It was originally posted at 2:30 p.m.

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