Nancy Pelosi Has Another Challenger: Ryan Khojasteh

Dawn Papple

Ryan Khojasteh, a San Francisco Bay area native, has big plans for California's 12th congressional district. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has represented this district since January, 2013, and served in House of Representatives almost continuously since 1987. Inquisitr previously reported that Progressive Stephen Jaffe is challenging Pelosi for her House seat. Now, it looks like the San Francisco Bay area voters have a second Progressive to choose from. Like Jaffe, Ryan Khojasteh is a Progressive. Like Jaffe, he supported Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primary of 2016 and says that his campaign will not accept PAC or Super-PAC donations.

In an exclusive interview, Khojasteh told Inquisitr that he believes he can better represent the 12th congressional district than both Pelosi and Jaffe. Khojasteh says that, like many in his district, he knows what it's like to grow up in middle class America without an extended family support system as the result of immigration policies.

"My family is currently affected by the travel ban too. I know what it's like from a young age to be a part of these late night kitchen table conversations about whether my parents needed to take out a second mortgage on the home, how they would send the kids to college, or how would they be able to pay the bills for the month. My dad is a small business owner, and I worked for him during high school. I have seen firsthand how hard it is for small businesses to keep their doors open and stay in business."

He is the son of Iranian immigrants and the first member of his extended family born in the United States. He has $150,000 in student loans, and that is after accounting for his scholarship award.

"I really began to reflect. Our party isn't necessarily representing the majority of Americans because a sizable chunk of those in charge never lived these issues to understand these issues," Ryan told Inquisitr. "There is such a growing disdain towards the establishment."

Ryan says that Pelosi is leading a party that is becoming more flawed and more comfortable in its flawed ways at a time when it should be striving for a progressive future.

"The party needs to change. Our leaders need to be held accountable. And I believe that if there ever was a time, 2018 would be that time. Changing the party, starts here in CA-12."

He also wants to prove that no incumbent is invincible. Unseating Pelosi would do just that, he says.

He says that he was invited to Congresswoman Pelosi's press conference about the DREAM Act in September. He says that he witnessed undocumented youth protesting, at which point Pelosi left. He said that the protesters stressed the need for comprehensive immigration reform. He says that the protesters said that they tried to get a meeting with Pelosi for years, but that they were "repeatedly turned down."

"This was unacceptable, and so at our midyear leadership retreat, I was inspired to fight for a clean DREAM Act and a broader comprehensive immigration reform package," Ryan told Inquisitr. "As the chair, I authored two resolutions, unanimously approved by the Commission, that were presented to the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors."

The first resolution called for the Board of Supervisors and the mayor's office to utilize their positions to influence federal lawmakers in an attempt to make a clean DREAM Act a legislative priority. The second resolution called for San Francisco to refrain from using the word "DREAMER." Ryan says that the word "perpetuates the divisive good vs. bad immigrant narrative."

"I learned firsthand that undocumented youth and DACA recipients do not like this word because the true dreamers are all immigrants who came here in pursuit of the American dream, including their parents. All 11 million undocumented immigrants should be granted status. The more we use the word 'DREAMER' the more we inherently demonize everyone else."

"When you come from an Iranian-American family, your existence is inherently political. My dad always talked to me about the revolution, how hard it was to leave, how hard it was to plant roots here," Ryan told Inquisitr. "My dad is potentially alive today because America exists. I have such deep respect for the American Dream that I am going to dedicate the rest of my life protecting it and preserving it for future generations."

Ryan says that he is not worried about splitting the Progressive vote during the primary. He says that with California's "top two" primary system, the two candidates with the most votes will progress to the election in November, regardless of party.

He also has plenty of ideas for changes in gun control laws. In addition to universal background checks, he'd like to ban semi-automatic rifles and modifications for all civilians, create a registry for anyone who owns more than 10 guns, increase trauma centers in non-metropolitan areas, prohibit anyone convicted of a hate crime from owning a gun, create more comprehensive gun safety classes, expand the definition of domestic abuse in relation to gun ownership, allow the CDC to study gun violence as a public health issue, consider gun owners' liability insurance, and strengthen regulations regarding firearms and mental health.

In California, vaccines have been a hot public health topic for years. Philosophical and religious vaccine waivers are no longer accepted for entry into schools, preschools, and daycare centers as part of state law. Ryan says that if he were a member of Congress, he would vote for federal legislation removing non-medical vaccine exemptions across the country, though he believes that such legislation would be challenged on Tenth Amendment grounds for infringing on state sovereignty.

While on the topic of GMOs, it should also be noted that Ryan believes that the heavy subsidization of corn and soy to facilitate meat production and processed foods is backwards to public health. He thinks it makes more sense to subsidize fruit and vegetable production from the standpoint of public health and public health associated costs.

Ryan says would also support a federal Right to Farm act protecting farmers from nuisance lawsuits, provided farmers employ standard and accepted farming practices.

"This land serves incredibly important purposes -- traditional, spiritual, religious, historical. It is their home. No justification in my opinion is compelling enough to strip that land away."

"I will be back all 52 weekends of every year for as long as I am a member of Congress," Khojasteh told Inquisitr. "Accessibility and transparency are two crucial factors in restoring truth in our government."