Opinion: Unknown, unfunded and unprepared: Meet the long-shot candidates in the South Bay congressional race

Morris F. Griffin
Morris Griffin, a long-shot candidate for the 44th District congressional seat, speaks at a news conference in 2014 about the shooting of Ezell Ford by Los Angeles police officers.
(Christina House / For The Times)

Last month the Los Angeles Times’ editorial board endorsed former Hermosa Beach City Councilwoman Nanette Barragán over front-runner state Sen. Isadore Hall (D-Compton) in the District 44 congressional race to succeed Janice Hahn. This South Bay district stretches from South Gate to San Pedro.

And though we only mentioned Barragán and Hall in the endorsement editorial, they aren’t the only candidates in this race. Earlier this spring, we invited all 11 candidates in the race at the time (one has since dropped out) to come to Times headquarters for an interview with the editorial board. Most did.

These long-shot candidates will have a tough time against the well-funded campaigns of Hall and Barragán in Tuesday’s primary election, and for the most part they are not at all prepared to be members of Congress. But they are on the ballot and deserve a little bit of (virtual) ink. Here it is:

Marcus Musante has the best-funded campaign after Hall and Barragán. Of the long shots, he’s the exception in that he has a real campaign and prepared for the job. A former L.A. County deputy district attorney who is now a private defense attorney, he has a narrow platform: pro-marijuana legislation. Musante told the board that if he is elected he will start a marijuana caucus in Congress to deal with the spread of marijuana legalization efforts across the nation. It’s not a bad idea. If (when) California legalizes recreational marijuana, there will be a host of associated federal issues to deal with.


Christopher Castillo with former Democratic Rep. Laura Richardson, center, at a primary election night party in 2012. Richardson lost in the general election to Janice Hahn.
Christopher Castillo with former Democratic Rep. Laura Richardson, center, at a primary election night party in 2012. Richardson lost in the general election to Janice Hahn.
(Bret Hartman / For The Times )

Chris Castillo of Wilmington is the only Republican in the race (there’s another Republican on the ballot, but he’s not running a campaign). This might be a surprise to some. Castillo was a Democrat not too long ago. In fact, he supported former Rep. Laura Richardson in her race against Hahn. Also, his main focus is on comprehensive immigration reform including amnesty, which is a four-letter word to most Republicans. Though the GOP could use some people like Castillo, whose parents are from Mexico, he’s not likely to go far in this heavily Democratic district. But perhaps he’s using this as a learning experience since, as he pointed out a number of times, he’s only 26.

Morris F. Griffin, who calls himself “Big Money Griff,” is a community activist from Inglewood (outside the district – not disqualifying, but not ideal either), a county custodial worker and frequent candidate for office. He’s a bit of a showman, too, turning up to the editorial board in a top hat with visual aids such as a fake bush with two birds in it to illustrate a metaphor. His main platform is a convoluted scheme to collect more revenue for everything by requiring states put a tax on lottery jackpots, which the federal government has no authority to do. But anyway, it is certainly fun thinking of him in Congress butting heads with Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi.


Armando Sotomayor of Carson is a community volunteer whose experiences are mostly Long Beach-focused. He’s a  former Republican whose is not only a Democrat now, but a progressive Bernie-esqe one whose passion runs to the most vulnerable – the homeless, senior citizens, the unemployed. He didn’t have any specific policy ideas to address their plight, however, and compassion only goes so far in D.C.

Michael de Mauricio has no party affiliation, no policy platform and not much of an understanding of Congress. His pitch is that he will talk to people in the communities in which he was raised. He now lives in Downey, which is not in the district.

Voters in the 44th race will also see these names on the ballot: Martha C. Delgadillo, Sylvia Ortiz and Ronald Siegel. We can’t tell you anything about these folks because they don’t have websites or campaigns, as far as we can tell. Also, they didn’t respond to requests for an endorsement interview with the editorial board.

Follow me @marielgarzaLAT

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