Journalist and media personality makes her case as the people’s moderate to represent California in the world’s most deliberative body
By Nick Antonicello
Christina Pascucci is a Democratic insurgent and out-of-the-box candidacy challenging the traditional political norms as she makes her case for real change against US congressional members Adam Schiff and Katy Porter.
Her approach to government is reminiscent of Arizona US Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a Democratic independent of sorts not beholden to the political status quo or even the late Dianne Feinstein, who’s long service and political pragmatism has been somehow lost in this place of permanent divided government.
In what seems what will continue to be a very evenly split and divided US Senate no matter what the final numerical count, Pascucci believes the ability to reach across the political aisle matters, and that most voters and California residents view themselves in the center.
We spoke with the candidate and below is the interview:
• Why are you seeking the Democratic nomination for the US Senate?
As a local television journalist for the last 15 years for KTLA 5 News and then Fox Los Angeles, I have witnessed firsthand the struggles of everyday people, and how quality of life has gone down as some of the same elected leaders get reelected and make the problem worse: I’ve seen small business owners lose their livelihoods, visited homeless encampments as the problem worsens, and comforted countless victims of crime. I have demonstrated my competence and commitment through my actions, not just my words. I’m frustrated with leaders ignoring the real problems with crime, mental health/homelessness, the rising costs of groceries, housing, and rent, and the crisis at the border. I am running for the U.S. Senate because I believe California needs a fresh voice, a leader who will work hard for the people, a collaborator who will build bridges and solve problems–not a career politician who only cares about publicity and donations for the next election.
• You describe yourself as a “JFK” Democrat. Can you explain what that means in 2024?
I am running as a moderate, Independent Democrat because I identify as a JFK-era Democrat. That means I reject the polarization and extreme ideologies that have emerged on both the left and the right. I’m pro-public safety, and pro-addressing the border crisis. I believe in fiscal responsibility and cutting taxes for the middle class. And we must stop making it difficult for small businesses to thrive. I also believe that protecting the environment should not be a partisan issue and demands collaboration from both parties in the Senate. Finally, I believe that the right of a woman to make private health care decisions is between her and her doctor, and the government should stay out of it.
• You have never held public office. What in your background or resume qualifies you over more experienced elected officials also seeking the nomination?
The current state of California shows that having a conventional political background is not a guarantee of effective leadership. I have been working as a local television journalist and war correspondent for almost two decades, interviewing thousands of people and covering stories that matter to the people of Southern California and the world.
I have a strong connection with the people of California, and I can speak Spanish fluently, the only polling candidate in the race who does so. I have dedicated my time and resources to support our Latino communities and witness their diverse and rich contributions to our state. I advocated and worked for the causes that are important to them, because I genuinely care, not because I sought their vote. I have interviewed thousands of people across the state, as well as leaders and ordinary citizens across the world. I have reported on a wide range of issues, from the lack of basic services for indigenous communities to the global challenges of war and diplomacy. I have faced many hardships and dangers in my career, from long hours and hostile environments to being stalked or accused of spreading false information, the so-called “Fake News”. I have learned to be resilient, determined, and compassionate, which are all qualities that Californians deserve in their next U.S. Senator.
• You have positioned yourself as the moderate in the race. How does that
compare or contrast with say Adam Schiff or Katie Porter?
My campaign is about putting people over politics. Adam Schiff, Katie Porter, and most of the other candidates are loyal to their party agendas, not to the people’s needs. They will always vote for their party, not with their conscience. Representative Schiff is one of the most polarizing politicians in America. At a time when Republicans and Democrats must unite, we cannot turn the US Senate into a Twitter argument. Californians deserve a Senator who will prioritize working on our common goals and deliver results- not on generating attention to bankroll the next campaign.
Katie Porter will chase every business out of our state, killing jobs for hardworking Californians. We can protect workers and consumers while supporting California businesses as the engines of job growth–anyone who says otherwise is being dishonest. We need to make businesses a partner in serious, common-sense solutions, not demonize them to score political points.
• Do you believe we have a crisis at the southern border and how specifically will you address the current conditions?
I have visited the border dozens of times and have also visited the vast majority of countries in Latin America, where much of the migration process begins. I am perhaps best positioned out of all my opponents to address what is undeniably, a crisis. We need to take swift and decisive action to address the crisis at our border from both a humanitarian and a national security perspective. An unprecedented influx of migrants, many of whom are crossing into California illegally, are dying in the process because of the conditions they face. Some leaders deny there’s even a problem. That is dangerous.
As a candidate, I recently visited the border wall near the San Ysidro port of entry, and I even crossed into Mexico to see the crisis and speak with officials. My Spanish skills allowed me to speak with migrants and hear their harrowing stories.
To address the border crisis, we need to implement various effective solutions such as more resources for border patrol, creating economic opportunity in the countries from which asylum seekers are fleeing, as well as supporting host communities near the first or second step of migration so that migrants can integrate into those economies. Another important solution is increasing the number of judges who can handle asylum cases, as the wait time to see a judge is several years. More judges would allow more interviews with asylum seekers and to quickly evaluate their eligibility to remain in the country legally. I’ve included more details on my website christinaforcalifornia.com
• What is your position regarding Ukraine’s entrance into NATO?
As a war correspondent and humanitarian, I traveled to countries like Ukraine, the Middle East, Latin America, Haiti, and Armenia. In Ukraine, I saw the devastation and the suffering of civilians just 20 days after the war started and reported their stories of loss and resilience. I was also privileged to lead a team of doctors who performed life-saving surgeries on newborns who would have otherwise been left without care due to the displacement of medical staff. I have witnessed the benefits of global solidarity and aid in confronting a tyrant like Putin, and I firmly believe that the U.S. has a moral responsibility to help countries that face threats and defend democratic values. Our principles and values compel us to foster peace and collaboration in the world, and to assist the growth and well-being of other nations where possible, like backing Ukraine’s path to NATO membership.
• Do you support a two-state solution for Israel & Palestine? Do you support a ceasefire initiative?
I agree that a two-state solution is the best way to achieve peace and justice for both Israelis and Palestinians. However, this is not a simple matter of declaring two states and expecting them to coexist peacefully. Many complex and interrelated issues need to be resolved, such as the status of Jerusalem, the borders, the security, the refugees, the water resources, and the economic cooperation. The international community, especially the key players like the US, Egypt, Jordan, and others, has a crucial role to play in facilitating dialogue, providing humanitarian aid, ensuring security, and supporting development. Hamas must be taken from power, the ongoing suffering and death of innocent civilians in Gaza must end, and all Israeli hostages must be released. Only then can meaningful negotiations resume, and a lasting peace be achieved.
• Should California be receiving a larger slice of federal aid regarding transportation to offset the Gas Tax?
According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, California receives around $4 billion per year from the federal fuel excise tax for transportation. However, this amount is substantially less than what Californians pay in taxes to the federal government. I would advocate for more resources for our state, especially more federal funding for local and state transportation projects. For example, California ports are experiencing significant delays and congestion due to the high demand for goods, labor shortages, and ongoing COVID-19 impacts. The federal Department of Transportation provided loans worth billions of dollars to improve California’s port and supply chain infrastructure, but more action and investment are needed to address the root causes of the problem.
• Who currently in the Senate would you best emulate?
Our leaders must exhibit integrity, a relentless commitment to truth, and to always do what is right regardless of party lines. As the longest serving female Senator in US history, Dianne Feinstein was a political giant who shattered many barriers for women in politics. Politics aside, I would hope to emulate my leadership style after her: open-minded, approachable, and willing to listen to different perspectives, which is essential in these polarized times.
• What is your impression of President Biden and Senate Leader Schumer? Do you agree with their policy goals and objectives?
President Biden and Senator Schumer have earned my respect, even though I do not always share their vision and agenda.
• You come from the world of media, and to many Democrats FOX News is considered biased against Democrats. How do you respond to that assessment?
I worked as a journalist for FOX Los Angeles, which is part of FOX Network News. It was a valuable opportunity to develop my skills and learn from experienced colleagues. I also had the freedom to tell stories of cultures and experiences around the world that typical local news journalists might not get to cover. Since launching my campaign in October, I have been on Fox News to share a moderate Democratic perspective on the biggest issues of the day. I would encourage more Democrats to engage with people who don’t always share their views.
• California will have the least amount of senate seniority in a generation. Should you win what committee assignments would you lobby for?
I will lobby aggressively to join the committees whose work most impacts the daily lives of Californians; those would be the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee. My platform is built on the foundation of education, and I think it is one of the policy areas where we can find common ground if both parties let go of their ties to special interests and act in the best interest of our children, especially when it comes to early literacy. I am also well-equipped to handle foreign relations with vast experience around the world, in more than 100 countries, interviewing world leaders, and leading humanitarian missions to conflict zones. I also served as a war correspondent and understood firsthand the complexities of war, how to foster peace, and when we must stand up for democracy.
• What are the three most important issues facing California and how would you address them over a six-year term of office?
Economy: I would provide tax relief for the middle class and small businesses by repealing federal limits on state and local tax deductions. This would allow millions of Californians to keep more of their income, save it, or support their local communities. We have a responsibility to ensure that parents have adequate time and resources to care for their
children, without compromising their economic security or career prospects. As a first-time mother, I’m committed to putting families first. That means advocating for paid family leave and affordable childcare. We should give incentives to employers who help defray the cost to their employees. I will also fight for affordable housing, especially for Latino families, first responders, and teachers.
Mental Health/Homeless: I am the only candidate in this race who is making the mental health crisis a cornerstone of my platform. I will advocate for more federal funding to support existing programs that help people with mental health and substance abuse issues. I will also work to improve the youth foster system, which is a major factor in homelessness (half the unhoused are touched by the foster care system!). Many homeless people suffer from untreated mental health disorders and face barriers to accessing services. California is a leader in exploring innovative and progressive mental health care treatments, such as psychedelic- assisted therapy. The evidence from recent studies on PTSD Veterans is compelling. We need to recognize the potential of these alternative treatments and invest in more research and implementation.
Border Crisis: We need to take swift and decisive action to address the crisis at our border from both a humanitarian and a national security perspective. An unprecedented influx of migrants is dying in the process because of the conditions they face. Some leaders deny there’s even a problem. That is dangerous. I recently visited the border wall near the San Ysidro port of entry, and I even crossed into Mexico to see the crisis firsthand. My Spanish skills allowed me to speak with migrants and hear their harrowing stories. I also heard from volunteers and Mexican officials about their needs. To address the border crisis, we need to implement various effective solutions such as more resources for border patrol, creating economic opportunity in the countries from which asylum seekers are fleeing, and addressing migration earlier in the process by supporting migrants integrating into the economies of the first country they reach. Another important solution is increasing the number of judges who can handle asylum cases, as the wait time to see a judge is several years. More judges would allow more interviews with asylum seekers and to quickly evaluate their eligibility to enter the country legally.
• Should US Senator Robert Menendez (NJ) resign his seat in wake of this second round of indictments?
US Senator Robert Menendez is facing serious accusations of corruption and bribery, for at least the second time. This latest indictment alleges he accepted bribes in exchange for aid to Egypt’s government, which would be especially egregious considering he chaired the powerful foreign relations committee. I support his stepping down from that role, which was the obvious first move. And I would urge for his resignation as well, to avoid dragging the nation into a long and contentious trial that would divert attention from the pressing problems facing the country.
Confidence in government has never been lower and we need to do all we can to uphold integrity and restore trust with the American people. Holding leaders accountable on both sides of the aisle is a big piece of that.