While still a student at UC Irvine School of Law, Cheyenne Hunt clerked for Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, working on the Judiciary Committee and witnessing firsthand the first impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.
It was that “unforgettable” experience, she said, that cemented her desire to run for office. And that means Hunt, a Fullerton resident and TikTok influencer, is the latest to announce her candidacy for California’s 45th congressional district represented by GOP Rep. Michelle Steel — a race that’s heating up fast.
Hunt found while working in Washington, D.C., she said, that not everybody is motivated by the issues that are keeping people in her community up at night.
“Working on (Capitol) Hill showed me the ways in which our system is designed to prioritize justice and to treat nobody as if they are above the law,” said Hunt, who works in tech policy for Public Citizen, a progressive advocacy group.
“But it also showed me the ways in which our lawmakers are not necessarily always reflecting the interests of their constituents. And I think that a lot of us are looking for somebody who’s really going to be a champion for working families, and that’s why I’m running right now.”
A progressive Democrat, Hunt hopes to be the first Gen Z — anyone born from 1997 to the early 2010s — woman elected to Congress. Members of the U.S. House must be at least 25 years old; Florida Congressman Maxwell Frost became the first Gen Z person elected to Congress last year.
Hunt has amassed over 60,000 followers and 3 million likes on her TikTok, @cheyennehuntca, where she posts political commentary, various event footage and the occasional “day in my life.”
And as someone who lobbies for big tech accountability for a living, Hunt has a lot to say about TikTok and talks in Congress about banning the Chinese-owned social media app.
“I think there’s a serious lack of understanding and a lack of expertise about social media in our current Congress,” Hunt said. “The concerns about TikTok are certainly warranted. We should not be casual about the fact that the (Chinese Communist Party) may be potentially harvesting our data through the app.”
But to that point, comprehensive data privacy legislation that addresses other apps like Facebook and Instagram, and also the way information is collected online, are what members of Congress should strive for, she said. And it will be one of her priorities in Congress, she said.
Other priorities include addressing the cost of living that has “spiraled out of control” and more regulation of big tech companies.
Garden Grove Councilmember Kim Bernice Nguyen — who has already garnered considerable local support, including that of state Sen. Tom Umberg and Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley — is also vying for the seat, which includes parts of Orange County and a sliver of Los Angeles County.
The district was recently placed on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s target list of competitive Republican-held or open districts that the party’s campaign arm is expected to invest heavily in.
Lance Trover, Steel’s campaign manager, said, “Southern California voters know her record of fighting for lower taxes, standing up to the Chinese Communist Party and ensuring everyone has a shot at the American dream,” maintaining she will be reelected in 2024.
Hunt, who says “it’s time for a change” in Congress, will continue to post on TikTok throughout her campaign.
“I think elected officials could do a better job at having conversations with people in verbiage that they understand,” Hunt said. “I definitely plan on using social media to continue the discussion with constituents, supporters and really anybody else as we move through this campaign and hopefully after we win.”