Ray Lutz, a Democratic candidate for California's 52nd congressional district, is hungry.
He's taken an unusual approach to a typical problem for unknown candidates challenging established incumbents like Congressman Duncan D. Hunter, whose father held the San Diego County seat Lutz is seeking for 28 years. Name recognition goes a long way in congressional races, so there's little incentive for an incumbent to give a challenger free air time and publicity by agreeing to a televised debate. And with local media struggling, a guy like Lutz has few options to get his name out there. So, in a desperate move, Lutz has launched a hunger strike.
Last Thursday, he stopped eating in an effort to pressure Hunter into scheduling a debate with him. While Hunter has yet to return his calls, the media, at least, is paying attention.
Here's an edited transcript of a conversation I had today with the surprisingly cheerful Lutz:
How are you feeling?
The strike's been going on for now six days. It's actually stabilized a bit. The first day was really hard. I'm used to eating every single meal. I love to eat, I'll be perfectly honest. When you skip one, it's like, where's my meal. The next two days were relatively easier, and then I was told at the third day, I had to have an enema to get rid of any waste. I did that, and then the fourth day I was really hating life, and that night, I couldn't hardly sleep. The fifth day, yesterday, I felt really good. And today, I feel really good. I went for a walk this morning -- though I was slow, I'll admit.