Bakersfield teacher Marisa Wood has announced she will run against Rep. Kevin McCarthy in the upcoming 2022 election.
Referencing McCarthy’s support for Rep. Liz Cheney’s recent ouster from a leadership position in the Republican House Caucus, Wood said in a video announcing her candidacy that strong women, who speak their mind, “apparently that’s a problem for Kevin McCarthy. And that makes it a big problem for me.”
She says she’s “not a politician” and is running to represent struggling families, workers, small business owners and others she claims McCarthy has ignored during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I have families that are living multiple families in a place because they just can’t afford it, and (McCarthy) doesn’t pay attention to those needs,” Wood said in a phone interview with The Californian. “He’s more concerned about being a Washington politician and spending time over there and advancing a Republican agenda rather than thinking about his constituents’ needs.”
An email to McCarthy's office seeking comment was not immediately returned.
Running as a Democrat, Wood joins Actor Bruno Amato, who announced his intent to take on McCarthy in February.
Whoever ends up winning will have a challenge. McCarthy has an undefeated election record since first taking office in 2007. He is well-known for his fundraising abilities and has a strong base of support in Kern County.
He has never received less than 62 percent of the vote in the eight elections he has participated in for his congressional seat. The House Minority Leader, he has a strong influence over the Republican Party.
Wood said she hopes her authenticity appeals to voters. She proudly says she is not a politician, although she did run for the Kern High School Board of Trustees in 2010.
“I believe that people will choose the person over the party,” she said. “We want the same things, we want to do right by our kids, we want to do right by our students. I believe that people will hear my message, and they will believe in it, and they will say, ‘I want to vote for her, I want to do that,’ and not just go, ‘she’s a Democrat so I’m not going to vote for her and he’s a Republican so I will.’”
Wood has taught in the Fairfax School District for the past 20 years. She’s spent the last five as a special assignment teacher in junior high, teaching English language learners proficiency.
She said one of the main reasons she is running is because of her students. She is running on a platform of raising the prospects of working families by making health care affordable, raising the minimum wage and providing a better education to students.
She called the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump, and McCarthy’s response to the incident, as the catalyst for her decision to run for office.
“I just know that for too long people’s voices have not been heard,” she said. “What I’m hoping is that people will listen to me, hear me, understand the conviction that I have, the promise that I make to do my job, which is to serve the constituents that voted for me.”
You can reach Sam Morgen at 661-395-7415. You may also follow him on Twitter @smorgenTBC.