Muslim Doctor Runs for Lieutenant Governor, Vows to Fight Trump

Dr. Asif Mahmood, 56, greets supporters outside the federal immigration building in downtown Los Angeles where he announced his candidacy for California lieutenant governor in the November 2018 election.  (Erika Aguilar/KQED)

A physician who immigrated to the United States from rural Pakistan announced his campaign Wednesday to become the next lieutenant governor of California.

Dr. Asif Mahmood, a political newcomer, said he’s got the credentials to fight President Trump on policies that he believes are “attacks on minorities.”

“As a Muslim immigrant from the great, blue state of California, I’ll be a triple threat to Donald Trump,” Mahmood said standing outside the federal immigration building in downtown Los Angeles.

The 56-year-old pulmonologist immigrated to the United States in 1991 to attend medical school, and has been practicing medicine for 17 years. He lives in Southern California with his wife and three teenage children.

Mahmood is running as a Democrat. He laid out three campaign promises Wednesday: Medicare for all Californians, free community college and standing up to Donald Trump.

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“It’s time to get tough on hate,” he said.

Muslim Doctor Runs for Lieutenant Governor, Vows to Fight Trump

Muslim Doctor Runs for Lieutenant Governor, Vows to Fight Trump

But, as a political novice, Mahmood was slim on specifics of how he would get those things done.

His campaign consultant, Ace Smith, said they would need to raise between $1 million and $3 million to be competitive, but he felt like Mahmood had the network to do so.

Mahmood echoed that confidence Wednesday when he touted his volunteer work at clinics and with interfaith groups, saying he didn't think his Muslim faith would hinder his ability to reach supporters.

“I’m a proud Muslim,” he said. “I’ve been very accepting, and I think I will be accepted considering my track record.”

Although the position's duties are mostly ceremonial, the lieutenant governor sits on the University of California Board of Regents, is the president of the State Senate and serves as acting governor when needed.

Outgoing Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is running to take Gov. Jerry Brown’s place, is termed out leaving the race without an incumbent.

Mahmood will have to work hard to get his name known to voters. The race for lieutenant governor has already attracted seasoned politicians such as state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-San Gabriel Valley).

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León is another potential candidate for lieutenant governor. Although he has not formally made a decision to run, de León has filed campaign finance paperwork to fundraise.

Health care product inventor Howard Leonhardt is also considering a run for lieutenant governor as an independent, according to his campaign website.