CD2 Congress Candidate Yahya Yuksel Accelerating a Come-from-behind Campaign

Read: Accused Rapist Yahya Yuksel Must Drop Out Now from CD2 Race

Yahyah Yuksel, a Democratic candidate for Tucson’s CD2 Congressional Seat, plans to capture votes by emphasizing universal health care, creating jobs that pay well and building a well-educated workforce.

“We know what is right for the people. It takes people with courage, integrity and experience to get that done, and that’s what we offer,” he said at a lively open house recently.

Charismatic, intelligent and energetic, Yuksel burst onto the campaign scene in March, stole the show at a candidate forum and promptly filed 2,400 signatures to get on the ballot (only 1,274 were required).

Offering a brunch of scrambled eggs, refried beans, tortillas, salsa, and coffee, he showed off his bustling campaign headquarters at 3776 N 1st Ave. (near Roger Road) in Tucson. He is the first in the field of 7 Democratic candidates to hold an open house where voters, staff, and the candidate could freely meet and mingle. He plans to hold more.

“We have a huge office, bigger than everyone else’s office,” he said. “It’s not that we’re raising a ton more money. We’re more efficient with our money.”

Building a campaign

Yuksel knows how to build a campaign. At age 14 he founded Teen Democrats in Tucson, and organized youth groups to campaign for John Kerry’s 2004 presidential bid.  At age 19, Yuksel worked for Congresswoman Gabby Giffords’ successful congressional campaign. Afterward, he served as the Co-Chair for Vice Mayor Karin Uhlich’s successful 2009 re-election campaign.Born and raised in Tucson, Yuksel is an attorney. He has a Masters in Chinese law from China’s top university. His heritage is Persian, Turkish and Kurdish, giving him a memorable name that is perfect for a bumper sticker. He’ll need to work fast, because the primary is on August 28 and the early mail-in ballots go out in less than 60 days. To meet the challenge Yuksel has assembled an election machine of 20 people – ranging from young interns to seasoned campaigners:

  • Kenny Jacobs came from Portland, OR, to be the Campaign Coordinator. He worked as Executive Director of the Pima County Democratic Party for the 2008 election cycle and also worked on the Obama campaign of 2008. His first federal campaign was with Jesse Jackson’s run for President in 1988. In the early 1990s, he worked statewide with Arizona for Fairness in support of  LGBT issues.
  • Dr. Robert Berrier is the Campaign Strategist. For 25 years he headed leadership and organizational development for clients of Spring International, a national survey and focus group business. Berrier has run 60 campaigns for Democrats and progressives and won 59 of them.
  • Laura Little is the social media director. She is the Director of Marketing and Fan Engagement for UA Athletics, in charge of sports marketing and digital advertising.
  • Diane Cuneo is the Creative Director in charge of advertising. She has advertising agency experience.
  • Ivanna Ferra is the Campaign Manager, in charge of reaching young voters. She is a Tucson business owner with an education in marketing. She has worked with Mi Familia Vota, which visits schools, community centers and homes of citizens to register voters.
  • Priscilla Teran is organizing a novel video ad competition for the campaign. She is the General Manager of Tucson Bike Share and was a Community Outreach and Recruiter for the University of Arizona.

Yuksel is competing with Democrats who have been elected to office, including Ann Kirkpatrick, Matt Heinz, and Bruce Wheeler. “Yeah, they’be been in office before, but that doesn’t mean they succeeded in office,” Yuksel said. “We need a new generation with new ideas to get into Congress and represent the people of Southern Arizona.”

Healthcare“We want to have affordable and universal healthcare for everybody, from the day they’re born to the day they die,” Yuksel said. “I see a path forward with our current system, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). We just have to reduce a lot of costs and continually mitigate the growing levels of epidemics, the rising age levels and the cost of new medical advances.””We also have to hold the pharmaceutical companies accountable, as well as the state hospital networks and the insurance companies,” he said. “The ideas behind the Affordable Care Act are not just from Obama. They have been proposed since Truman first envisioned it and Lyndon Johnson enacted Medicare in 1965.”

Jobs that pay wellWhen I was in China I gained a lot of experience learning about how they attracted investment and how they attracted a huge amount of jobs to their region,” he said. “It’s about industrialization and focusing on your strengths. Southern Arizona has a strong potential for solar energy, optics, planetary sciences, and cybersecurity. These are strong sectors that will bring high-paying jobs.”“But it also a matter of education. I’m not talking about a 4-year or 10-year education. I’m talking about quick vocational training programs that are developed in tandem with the private sector. We’ve seen it done successfully all across the US.”“A lot of people don’t want or need to go to 4-year education to get the job that is high-paying. The 2016 median household income is under $50,000 — it’s not that high. And one of three single-parent families live in poverty. Eight out of 10 families live paycheck to paycheck. It’s incredibly important to have a high-paying job.We can do better by focusing on niches that are strong in this region,” he said. “We can focus on building a strong, educated workforce, and making sure the government is supporting that development through economic incentives.”

Campaign finance reform“Campaign finance reform is the biggest issue facing our democracy,” he said.  Candidates like me are spending a lot more time than they should on raising money because it costs so much to advertise. “We’ve got to change it. We have public media like NPR and C-SPAN. Can’t we make them the primary sources of information about candidates?” he asked.Let’s also expose and disclose all money — from campaign contributions to individual donations — no exceptions,” he said. “We can create this system where the only money a candidate can get is from the voters in that district. It’s a small price to pay for democracy.” “Right now I’m traveling across the US raising funds. Let’s incentivize a system where people in the district are the only ones making contributions to the candidates. That’s what democracy is — not candidates spending 75% of their time seeking contributions.”

A young generation with new ideasDespite the odds, Yuksel is upbeat. “I’m willing to work with everyone to find common ground that we can all stand on. That’s the most important thing. We have to get back to the basics of working together again.”“Congress is so broken. We’ve got to work together. This young generation has new ideas to solve the issues ahead. We will reinvent our institutions so that the 21st century can be another American century.”“I would like everyone to come down and see the energy and the magic that’s happening in our office. It’s hard to explain the momentum we have. We have a lot of people volunteering and getting us out there. We’re going to win this, that’s for sure.”Learn more at his official website

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16 thoughts on “CD2 Congress Candidate Yahya Yuksel Accelerating a Come-from-behind Campaign”

  1. It’s quite simple to those who get it, but if you don’t get it you never will. This way to the egress, Mr. Eagan

  2. What a love letter to a young person with zero governing experience and only campaign experience as a volunteer. And his credentials seem sketchy to me; what would an American wanting to make a difference in America want with a degree in such a narrow field as “Chinese Law”? I taught Poli Sci for a long time and was a pre-law advisor. I have no idea why anybody would want to get a law degree from a Chinese law school unless they wanted to build a business in China. And the notion that Americans could learn about economic development from China: really? They don’t allow unions and encourage slave labor. Why follow someone just because they are glib in public and are “charismatic”? Let’s be smart with our primary votes.

    • I expect you also taught ‘poli sci’ a long time ago to be puzzled as to why an international lawyer would pick Chinese Law. Thank you for your service.

    • Right, Monica or whoever you are.

      Let’s attack people for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

      People, ESPECIALLY young people, need to step up and run for political office. And those who have the courage to step up will have varying backgrounds and perhaps no previous political experience. But undoubtedly, some of them will eventually become great representatives if elected.

      “I taught Poli Sci for a long time and was a pre-law advisor blah blah blah…” Apparently these are credentials to disparage someone else’s career and ambitions even when there is no evidence that the person is anything other than hardworking, decent, and honest.

      What is it that you REALLY don’t like about Mr. Yuksel, Monica? Your comment is actually quite revealing. About you.

    • Hi Monica, I’m sorry you feel that way about my international experience, but I’m sure if we sat down over coffee or on a call you would see it’s value. My office number is ‭(520) 275-9794‬, my team will make the time for us to connect. Let’s win and hold this see together. Take care.

  3. I have been interning for Yahya’s campaign, and it is amazing seeing the campaign come together into something big through lots of hard work. Yahya is very passionate about what he stands for and what he believes in, and I believe that passion is what’s going to drive him straight into office. In the short time I have been volunteering for Yahya, I have seen him take this campaign on with everything he has. He takes our teams suggestions to heart and makes sure we know he is incorporating our ideas to better the campaign. He has proved to all the volunteers that in office he will make our voices heard and give us the policy changes we deserve. I look forward to seeing Yahya thrive in Congress.

  4. As a volunteer, it’s always nice to see a young man with big ideas that you can trust. Everyone likes to make promises, but no one likes to admit how hard it is.

  5. How does the candidate propose to “…mitigate… the rising age levels…” as
    stated above in reference to the healthcare issue?

  6. This brunch was just absolutely amazing! Yahya’s team was just so enthusiastic and devoted to their work and it made me realize that change is possible when one is willing to work for it.

  7. Blog for … whom?

    In your report on the CD2 congressional candidate forum you claim that Yahya Yuksel “stole the show with his articulate, quotable and confident presence.” Then you post a survey of those who attended the event that refutes that very contention.

    According to the survey, YOU PUBLISHED, In every category Bruce Wheeler gained the most support of the attendees. On the issue of healthcare, he gained 89% of the vote, beating out all the other candidates (Yahya’s got 72%). Bruce also won hands down vs all the rest on the economy, getting 95% support (to Yahya’s 77% or the second lowest). On Immigration Bruce also won the most support with 92% of the vote (Yahya came in dead last).

    Wheeler’s overall score by the people who attended was 91.9%.
    Yahya’s received 73.06% — the second lowest favorable rating of all the six candidates.

    And yet “Blog for Arizona” claims that “Yahya Yuksel stole the show.”

    I wasn’t there. Maybe he did “steal the show.” I just don’t have a clue what show is being talked about here.

    The people who attended the “show” voted very clearly who they were most impressed by, and Mr. Yuksel didn’t even come close. Perhaps there was a side show your are referencing that everyone somehow missed. But how does someone “steal” the show when most everyone in the audience did not think he did? A true mystery.

    As if this non-sensical, contradictory self-assertion was not enough, the blog choses to take another unfair and unsubstantiated hit by erroneously claiming that “Bruce Wheeler is apparently running a one-man campaign” because “he personally collected 95% of his signatures to get on the ballot.”

    As one of the volunteer’s in the Wheeler campaign I can assure you that it is hardly a “one man campaign.” Bruce collected all of his signatures not because there was nobody to help him — many people offered to do so. He chose to collect them all because, as he has done in his successful elections for all of his terms on the Tucson City Council and in the State Legislature (where CD2 constituents reside) he has wanted to meet his constituents face to face when asking them for support. That is a strength not a weakness, and a winning strategy so far.

    And if those unfair hits were not enough, Blog For Error-zona takes one last hit at him for “not raising funds effectively” because he only has $8,000 or so “on hand.” Yet you make the claim without giving any indication of how much campaign funds are “on hand” by the other candidates. We know the big money has gone to Kirkpatrick and the Heinz poured a tone of his own money into the race. But how much has been spent and how much is on hand for the other candidates? You give your readers nothing to compare, yet we are to take at face value that Bruce should be singled out on the money front without any data to compare this assertion with.

    Which leaves another question: are you really comfortable claiming that only money determines the viability of candidates? Obviously the people who attended to the CD2 candidates at the forum did not care about whose pockets were the fullest. They supported Bruce Wheeler because they LISTENED to him and COMPARED him with the others and a good majority came to the conclusion that he best articulated solutions to the issues that mattered to them.

    So again I must ask: exactly which ”show” were you at after all?

    Scott D. Egan
    Tucson, Arizona

    • I like Bruce Wheeler, I think he would make a great Democratic nominee for CD2.

      I’m wondering why he has been so weak in social media. On Twitter, he has recently stepped up. But he went from 9-17 until 3-18 without tweeting anything. He has only 2,562 followers on Twitter compared to Billy Kovac’s 9,397. On Facebook, Bruce has only 446 followers.

      Mr. Wheeler seems to have been the audience favorite at the recent candidate forum. Doesn’t that seem to indicate that he has great potential as a candidate but lacks a platform from which to speak? Why didn’t he make better use of social media? It’s a nice thought to get out there and shake everyone’s hand I suppose, but it isn’t a realistic way to win an election in a district as large as CD2.

      And fundraising matters. I can’t tell you how to get people to open their wallets, but I do know that you can’t win elections without money. And I’m sure it’s hard to raise money when the DCCC has pre-selected the candidate and that candidate is considered to be the front runner. Without their interference, it would certainly be a more level playing field and I’m sure we would have gotten a better candidate.

      • Hi Liza,
        Not long after reading Bodine’s article and your comment, I read a 2012 article from MIT’s by Sasha Issenberg summarized as follows:”The Obama 2012 campaign (through use of data analytics) created something new in the world: a national campaign run like a local ward election, where the interests of individual voters were known and addressed.” Maybe running like a local election isn’t such a bad idea if in doing so, the interests of individual voters are known and addressed. Something for us to consider.

        • Yeah, and where data really helps is with independent voters. But you get back to the same point, these kinds of services cost big money and candidates need money to run competitive campaigns.

          I think that in these times the campaign model to study is that of Bernie Sanders in 2016. He didn’t win the nomination, of course, but he built a well funded campaign largely through social media because MSM refused to cover him. And I would argue that his social media team is still the best.

          None of the AZ CD2 candidates have used social media effectively, IMO, although some are better than others. And I see this as a wasted opportunity.

    • A true mystery? It’s simple to see it if you get it, but if you dont’t get it you never will. So this way to the egress, Mr. Egan

  8. I’m an intern for Yahya’s campaign for Congress and the brunch was really an awesome thing to be a part of, as is the entire campaign really. I am hoping to go into politics/public policy/gov work someday and it’s really awesome to be surrounded by so many people who know so much. Yahya and everyone else Larry highlighted has great energy and experience to share with us younger interns. I really do believe that we will win the primary and the general because of these people.

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