|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from California's 39th district
January 3, 2019 - January 3, 2021
Gilbert Ray Cisneros Jr.
February 12, 1971
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Political party||Democratic (2008-present)|
|Republican (before 2008)|
|Education||George Washington University (BA)|
Regis University (MBA)
Brown University (MA)
|Branch/service||United States Navy|
Gilbert Ray Cisneros Jr. (born February 12, 1971) is an American philanthropist and former politician who served as the U.S. Representative for California's 39th congressional district from 2019 to 2021. A member of the Democratic Party, he was elected to the House in 2018. He was defeated in his 2020 bid for reelection by former California State Assembly woman Young Kim, whom he had defeated in 2018.
Cisneros's mother worked in a cafeteria, while his father served in the Vietnam War and suffered from exposure to Agent Orange. Cisneros served in the United States Navy as a supply officer for 11 years. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in political science from George Washington University (GWU) and his Master of Business Administration from Regis University. He worked as a shipping and manufacturing manager for Frito-Lay until he was laid off in 2010.
Weeks after he was laid off, Cisneros won a Mega Millions jackpot worth $266 million. He and his wife became philanthropists, establishing endowments for scholarships to be given to Latino students at GWU and the University of Southern California. They also founded Generation First Degree Pico Rivera, with the goal of ensuring every Latino household in Pico Rivera has at least one college graduate, and the Gilbert and Jacki Cisneros Foundation with an initial investment of $20 million to provide mentorship in education. After setting up the foundation, Cisneros earned a Master of Arts from Brown University in Urban Education Policy.
In 2017, he declared his candidacy against Ed Royce in the 2018 election for the United States House of Representatives to represent California's 39th congressional district. He specifically cited Royce's vote to repeal the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, as a reason he chose to run. In January 2018, Royce announced he would retire rather than seek reelection to a 14th term. Later, the election attracted national attention as the "weirdest race in the country" after the California Democratic Party and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee brokered a truce on negative campaigning between Cisneros and Andy Thorburn, who had each spent $6 million on their respective campaigns.
Fears of a lockout by either party were not realized when Cisneros advanced to the November runoff election, finishing second in the June primary election to Republican former Assemblywoman Young Kim, with 19.35% of the vote. This election was rated a "Toss-up" by the Cook Political Report and Sabato's Crystal Ball. The Associated Press called the election for Cisneros on November 17.
|Democratic||Herbert H. Lee||5,988||4.2|
|Republican||Steven C. Vargas||4,144||2.9|
|Democratic||Suzi Park Leggett||2,058||1.5|
|Republican||John J. Cullum||1,747||1.2|
|No party preference||Karen Lee Schatzle||903||0.6|
|No party preference||Steve Cox||856||0.6|
|American Independent||Sophia J. Alexander||523||0.4|
|American Independent||Ted Alemayhu||176||0.1|
Cisneros and his wife Jacki have two children, who are twins. They own a home in Pico Rivera, and lived in Newport Beach until they moved to Yorba Linda in late 2017, the year he began running for election. Before Cisneros won the lottery, Jacki worked for KNBC in Los Angeles.