"Let's get tough on hate," proclaims a physician who came to the U.S. from Pakistan and who just entered the 2018 race for California lieutenant governor.
Dr. Asif Mahmood, a Democrat, kicked off his candidacy Wednesday outside the headquarters of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in downtown Los Angeles, reports Fox News. He promises to run on his Muslim faith, immigrant experience and career in medicine.
The pulmonologist and doctor of internal medicine said his status as a Californian, a Muslim and an immigrant makes him a "triple threat" to fight what he calls President Donald Trump's "discriminatory attacks" on foreigners seeking a better life in the U.S. He practices at a number of hospitals in the Los Angeles area.
"I want to tell him [Trump]: Get tough on hate. Stop bashing on immigrants, on people of color, on Muslims," Mahmood, 56, told The Associated Press. "That is not America."
Mahmood was born in a small, rural village in Pakistan. He said his father's dream was to become a doctor, but he was forced to leave school and support his family at a young age. The family's dream was realized when Mahmood received his medical degree from one of Pakistan's top medical schools in 1987. He then moved to Kentucky in the 1990s to complete medical school. He moved to Southern California in 2000, and lives near Los Angeles with his wife and three teenage children.
As a first-time candidate, Mahmood's next step is to build a statewide coalition, potentially anchored to civil rights. He has participated in philanthropic efforts for nonprofit organizations, such as UNICEF and East Los Angeles College. He said his experience running a medical practice and volunteering at free clinics that treat poor populations gave him the credentials to campaign for health care reform.
He said he believes helping others is a person's highest calling.
On his campaign website, he states he knows the struggles of health care, including insurance coverage issues, prescription drug issues, in and out of network issues, follow up issues, and support beyond medical care. He also said if a patient doesn't have insurance, his office won't ask for payment. He supports a Medicare for All system.
Mahmood said he did not think his religion would be an obstacle in California, a state known for diversity that he credits for allowing him to flourish. "I am a proud Muslim and a proud American," he said.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the incumbent, is barred by term limits from seeking a third term and is running for governor.
The lieutenant governor has a seat on the board of regents of the 10-campus University of California. Mahmood said he would use it to influence higher education reform. "Education is why I'm here today," he said.
State Sen. Ed Hernandez, also a Democrat, is the only other declared candidate for lieutenant governor at this time.
"I say President Trump has it all wrong -- it's time to get tough on hate. It's time to fight hate and division, and instead build compassion and opportunity," said the new candidate.