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Cannon aims at Congress

"I want to represent people like me, who come up on the wrong side of everything."

Lucas Cannon, outside Scott Peters’ La Jolla office
  • Lucas Cannon, outside Scott Peters’ La Jolla office

"I want Scott Peters' job." So says Lucas Cannon. “I know I can do it better. I have been training all my life for this.”

But wait. Cannon is a barman here at a South Bay tavern. Political experience? Zippo.

“That’s quite an ambitious idea you’ve got,” I say. Because he has been talking about “primarying” Peters out of his job for quite a while. We’re sitting at the bar. He has to watch for when his customers need servicing.

“Yes,” he says. “And before 2016, I wouldn’t have thought it was possible. But seeing how grass roots was able to organize and put a guy like Bernie Sanders up nearly to the presidency gives me hope. He didn’t have to raise big money from any corporations.”

Cannon’s 33, good-looking in a long-faced, patrician sort of way. And, political ambitions nothwithstanding, he’s a realist. “It’s a long shot,” he says. “But if you don’t try, then it’s no shot. And even if you run and lose, you can at least steer the conversation in a way that’s more productive than what it has been. How often do you hear what Scott Peters thinks about any of the major issues? Never.”

I can’t help admiring the sheer moxie of the guy. And it turns out he brings a background that’s horrifying, but a politician’s dream bio. “I’m the fifth of six children, born in Hobart, Indiana,” he says. “My parents were divorced when I was two, and all six of us lived with our mother, who supported us essentially working at a gas station. Welfare, food stamps, all of that stuff. Frequently hungry, no heat. We were reduced to kerosene lamps in the ‘90s. Not the 1890s, the 1990s. We always had derelicts living at our house, couch-surfing. By the time I was eight, the state, Child Protective Services, came in and took us away.”

What kept him going was school. “I was always a straight-A student. I read. I studied a lot. It was my refuge. And teachers, Miss Davis, 3rd Grade, Miss Correll, French teacher, I’m sure they hated me, because I was always restless, difficult. But they stuck with me. I love them both.”

He got a scholarship to DePaul Law School, even though he had to keep working all through at places like DQ and Buffalo Wild Wings (“which actually taught me the value of hard work”).

The irony is: he graduated in 2012, couldn’t get a legal position, got a barman’s job, passed the Illinois, then California bar and still only landed “documentary review”-type summer jobs. “And I had studied family law, so I could help kids who had a childhood like I had.”

Obama inspired him, but mostly Bernie Sanders. “He did it without being part of the machine. That gives hope to us millennials, who are all drowning in college debt, have big ideas, but no real hope of getting out from under. I want to represent people like me, who come up on the wrong side of everything. You think this is an uphill battle? I have been fighting that fight ever since I can remember.”

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