- The Washington Times - Monday, October 23, 2017

A man who fled Cuba as a boy is warning Democrats against what he sees as ideological parallels between the communist regime and the American political party.

In a speech to the College Republicans at UCLA on Wednesday, Rafael Dagnesses said he doesn’t want “the Democrat Party to disappear.”

“Balance is good,” Mr. Dagnesses said, reported The College Fix, “but the Democrat Party no longer exists. Rational, middle-of-the-road Democrats have been hijacked by the leftist, socialist, communist movement.”

Mr. Dagnesses, a Marine veteran who twice made an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. House in California’s 26th Congressional District, said his family fled Cuba after Fidel Castro’s rise to power. He said his adopted grandfather, Huber Matos, was a high-ranking member of the revolutionary party, but quickly fell out of favor with the regime.

He said escaping to America allowed his family to thrive despite their impoverished background.

“Only in America can you work hard, and even have a third-world, third-grade dropout education, but if you work hard and you stay out of trouble, you will succeed,” he said. “The sky’s the limit.”

Mr. Dagnesses said the presidential campaign of Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent, was useful because it brought the term “socialist” back into mainstream political discourse. He said Mr. Sanders’ popularity revealed that the Democratic Party is at its root a socialist one, even if it masquerades as the “liberal” party.

Mr. Dagnesses ran for the same congressional seat in both 2014 and 2016, losing each time to incumbent Democratic Rep. Julia Brownley.

Asked whether he would run again in 2018, Mr. Dagnesses replied, “If I can get enough money for my campaign, I’ll run.”

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