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Candidate continues hunger strike for debate

San Diego Union Tribune (2010-08-17) Michelle Clock

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Candidate continues hunger strike for debate


TUESDAY, AUGUST 17, 2010 AT 8:09 P.M.


Congressional candidate Ray Lutz (right) consults with chiropractor Victor B.J. Krauss, who has experience with fasting.

Ray Lutz has lost 14 pounds. Since last Thursday.

And he isn’t on a diet.

Lutz, 52, has stopped eating to make a political point.

A longtime East County political activist now trying to unseat incumbent U.S. Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, R-Alpine, this November, Lutz says he is forgoing meals until Hunter agrees to debate him. Even Lutz, a Democrat, had doubts about how long he would last in the early hours of his hunger strike, conceding that he had never skipped more than a single meal. But by Tuesday, Lutz was in his fifth day of a water-only diet (with an occasional drink of apple juice). He visited a doctor.

“It’s a lot of weight to lose in six days,” he said. “I didn’t know that was possible... And I’m sure it’s going to continue to go up. I’m not eating anything.”

So far, Lutz’ attention-getting gambit has left him tired and weak and at times irritable. But at least he has had company.

Joining Lutz in the fasting is Libertarian candidate Michael Benoit, 59, who is also running against Hunter in the 52nd District, a Republican stronghold, this fall. Lutz’s wife Jill, 55, was skipping meals with her husband but will break her fast because she needs the energy for her job, he said.

Hunter said in an interview Tuesday that he plans to debate his opponents in October.

“We’re debating,” he said. “We’re just not debating now.”

But Hunter’s timeline isn’t quick enough for Lutz’s campaign team, who say they also want a direct response from Hunter or his campaign, after submitting letters to the first-term incumbent asking him to debate.

Hunter campaign consultant Dave Gilliard quipped last week that the hunger strike sounded “like something out of Berkeley not San Diego.”

Recently, Lutz has had a hard time sleeping at night.

“If I have to live through a few more nights like (Monday) night I don’t know if I can do it,” he said. “I couldn’t sleep because I was just having these, not so much hunger pangs, but just a general feeling of emptiness and feeling hungry.”

Benoit, who lives in Lakeside and is making his sixth run for the congressional seat, said the hunger strike was a way to protest what he views as a broken political system that fosters voter apathy. “People are not involved because the game is rigged for incumbents like Duncan D. (Hunter),” he said.

Benoit admitted he came close to breaking his fast over the weekend after spotting some green beans growing in the garden of a friend. “I grabbed one and looked at it,” he said. “It looked like it was ready so I bit on it, and I realized I had forgotten I was on this hunger strike, so I spit it out.”

Lutz said he would try to last at least until Friday, when he expects to see Hunter a political event in East County. He said if he can hold out that long, he will ask Hunter directly when they can debate.

“The first day was really, really hard because you’re used to eating every meal,” he said. “Now I’m used to not eating so I’m just hungry all the time. You just put it out of your mind if you can.”

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Title Candidate continues hunger strike for debate
Publisher San Diego Union Tribune
Author Michelle Clock
Pub Date 2010-08-17
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Note Features Ray Lutz and Duncan Hunter Jr
Keywords CA 50 Congressional District
Media Type Linked Article
Media Group News
Curator Rating Plain
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Topic revision: r2 - 25 Feb 2013, RaymondLutz
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