A former Biden administration official who drove the Pentagon’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) officials forward has launched a campaign to take a challenging House seat after losing a congressional bid in 2020.
Gilbert Cisneros, a multi-millionaire who won a congressional campaign in 2018 and lost to Republican Rep. Young Kim in 2020, served as the Department of Defense Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness from 2021 to September 2023, bringing issues surrounding DEI and abortion to the forefront of the Pentagon’s servicemember agenda. Cisneros is now running in the 2024 primary elections to represent California’s 31st Congressional District, according to BallotPedia.
In 2018, the Navy veteran and philanthropist stole Orange County’s red congressional seat for the Democratic party amid a surge of anti-Republican sentiment aimed at former President Donald Trump, according to Politico. He now hopes to succeed Democratic Rep. Grace Napolitano, who plans to retire after 25 years serving the nearby San Gabriel Valley.
“She’s someone I very much respect,” Cisneros told Politico in an interview. “I want to go on and continue her legacy in the 31st [district]. But I want to build upon my own too.”
Biden confirmed Cisneros to the top Pentagon civilian spot responsible for personnel matters in 2021. He became the center of Republican-Democrat culture wars, consistently defending the Pentagon’s DEI, abortion and expansive sexual and gender identity positions to Republican members of Congress who accused the Pentagon of prioritizing those things over military readiness.
He also clashed with Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville, who is blocking military promotions in protest of the Pentagon’s policy to pay for servicemembers to travel out of state for the purpose of receiving elective abortions put in place under Cisneros’ administration, according to Politico.
“During the two years Under Secretary Cisneros served in his role, he was a steadfast and faithful servant in the Department’s mission to take care of our people. His commitment to the ‘people first’ approach helped the Department improve the quality of life of our Service members and their families,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a July statement.
Cisneros’ team in the Office of the Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness (P&R) spearheaded initiatives that promoted “strategic readiness” across DOD to “better assess operational decision impacts on force readiness,” Austin said.
Under Secretary of Defense HON Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr.: We will continue to recognize the unique strength & resilience of the LGBTQ+ community. Your contributions to the Department’s missions are invaluable. pic.twitter.com/eRlx7yTLJP
— Department of Defense (@DeptofDefense) June 8, 2023
Cisneros faces a difficult race in a crowded Democratic field, including two state senators with strong ties to the district, Susan Rubio and Bob Archuleta, whom Napolitano endorsed, according to Politico.
Cisneros could not be reached for comment by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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