Since announcing his campaign for the upcoming jungle primary, 25th Congressional District candidate Chris Bellingham has worked to get the word on his candidacy out there.
“Having lived here for three decades I know the people of Palmdale, Lancaster, SCV and even the smaller areas like Sleepy Hill and Pearblossom more than anyone else,” Bellingaham said.
A longtime Lancaster resident, Bellingham’s first call to service occurred after 9/11 where he would go on to serve in the United States Army as a combat medic over multiple deployments to Afghanistan. After his service, Bellingham would attend UC Santa Barbara with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and later California State University Northridge for a master’s in public administration. He spent a decade working on several research problems from oil seeps and hydrogen fuel cells to wetland restoration.
Bellingham saw his call to run last year during the pandemic when he was a volunteer with the nonprofit Grace Resources helping make grocery deliveries to local neighborhoods.
“I was consistently seeing people I knew struggling and it simply became too much for me,” Bellingham said.
Prior to his run, Bellingham was heavily involved with a network of charity projects throughout the cities of Lancaster and Santa Clarita. “I’ve been trying to be at the churches and help out at every food drive I can. Trying to be at every single trash cleanup, homeless outreach, and veteran group events I can.”
Bellingham also previously held a rally with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA). He describes his policy as “holistic,” according to Ballotpedia.
“Personal organizational relationships,” he said. “I’ve lived here for many decades. I’ve been a part of a lot of nonprofits and little groups here and there. I’m really leaning into this network connection to introduce me to other people and being present with them.”
Through this personal network Bellingham has built up over the years he is hoping to see news of his campaign grow further through word of mouth. “It’s starting to happen already, people are calling and saying, ‘Hey, is this the same Chris Bellingham we went to elementary school with?’” he said. “The same Chris Bellingham who helped out in the robotics club is now running for Congress?”
Bellingham believes that it all has to start with healthcare, believing that investing in health care systems would greatly benefit the district as well as the country.
“I’ve seen Californians, Veterans, and Americans struggle and it’s not acceptable that people are dying in the streets, in VA healthcare facilities, and it’s costing us more money to let them suffer and it’s not compassionate healthcare,” he said.
Bellingham believes helping people with healthcare also involves an education campaign that will help people become more aware of common causes of death such as cardiac arrest and obesity. He sees healthcare as not just the moral choice but the fiscally rational choice.
“To me all politics is an informational campaign, it’s always about trying to get the voter the information so that they can become most aware of policies that help them and their neighbors,” he said.
Between the success of the vaccine rollout and the infrastructure bill, Bellingham looks at the Biden Administration’s first hundred days in a positive light. He is also a supporter of the president’s new infrastructure plan. “When I saw them talking about being able to provide for a high-speed rail, I thought ‘amazing.’ We need to have that kind of interconnectivity that China has been developing for the last few decades. I support it.”
Bellingham is also in support of calls to action like the Green New Deal with regards to addressing climate change. “I was a scientist, I was a chemist, I worked on oil spills in Towsley Canyon. I know climate change is real, but we need to have strong data points otherwise we’re just looking at a paper,” he said.
On immigration policy, Bellingham is in favor of more people being brought into the country to offset America’s decreasing population. “I think we need to renew the Homestead Act and bring in a lot more people into this country. China and India, with over a billion people, are slowly taking our economic part of the pie,” he said. “And while America is still currently more productive, we can still keep up our standard of living, but if we don’t deal with population growth then we will decline. We need to bring in more people, a lot more people to offset that loss.”
“…At the bottom level of the economic structure we do not have enough slack to increase wages,” he added. “So if we bring in more people than we can fill up those spots that increase wages for everyone across the board.”
Following the recent news that California will lose a seat in its congressional delegation due to future redistricting, Bellingham said he believes Antelope Valley has the chance of turning the tide of the 2022 election. “I think people don’t understand how many people live in Palmdale, Lancaster and the surrounding rural communities, in those communities there are more people there than in the Santa Clarita area” he said. “I think Antelope Valley has the tide that could lead the way.”
Despite challenges faced in garnering support from voters who already voiced their support for Democratic candidates like Christy Smith and Ruth Luevanos, Bellingham continues to remain optimistic as one of four candidates (including Rhoda Nazanin) eager to challenge Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Santa Clarita) next year.
“Christy and Ruth are both very nice people, but they’re going after different demographics than me and a lot of people in the party aren’t too happy with last year’s results and are looking for something new,” he said.
As the political climate in the country continues to further divide political lines, Bellingham hopes to bridge the gap between “D” and “R” voters in the district – however that may look down the road.
“This district has a weird tendency where Republicans control the Assembly and [city] council yet there are more registered Democrats up here, including when you take into consideration ‘no party preference’ [voters] and independents,” he said. “There are Democrats that don’t feel like they are being represented and they’re not turning out because of that,” he said. “By bridging the gap to those Democrats, meaning the more moderate and conservative types but also socially liberal, you can also reach out to those Republicans who lean independent that weren’t happy with either [former president Donald] Trump or Garcia but also voted for [President Joe] Biden. I’m interested in building a coalition, I want Democrats to take back patriotism. I’m tired of Republicans being the only ones who claim to be patriotic. Everyone deserves a seat at the table to be fully represented.”
Despite being part of a quartet of Democratic challengers for a congressional seat that could be lost due to the redistricting early next year, Bellingham remains confident in his campaign’s success. For right now though, he’s keeping further campaign events under wraps.
“I’m just Chris Bellingham, a scientist, combat medic and a publicly-spirited individual.”
Those who are interested in finding out more can visit his website as well as find information on how to volunteer or contribute to the campaign. For any questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay up to date on news from Bellingham for Congress by following their social media, including Facebook , Twitter and Instagram.