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Survivor of Jonestown Shooting Wins California Congressional Election

April 11, 2008 10:08 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Jackie Speier, survivor of 1978 Jonestown cult attack, was sworn in on Wednesday as a Representative for California.

30-Second Summary

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Jackie Speier, a Democrat from California, has been elected to finish the term of California Rep. Tom Lantos, who died of cancer in February.

Speier won the election in a landslide, garnering nearly 80 per cent of the vote. Speier will serve until the end of Lantos’s term in January. One of Speier’s political rivals called her win “a slaughter.”

Thirty years ago, she served as a congressional aide to U.S. Representative Leo Ryan, and was with him when he was murdered in Guyana on November 18, 1978. 

Representative Ryan was shot and killed by the Rev. Jim Jones’s cult, the People’s Temple. Speier herself was shot five times and presumed dead by members of the cult. Rescued 22 hours later, Speier returned to the United States to continue her political career.

As she fights for issues she cares deeply about, such as child support enforcement and voter rights, Speier remembers what she learned in 1978: "Guyana taught me: 'Why bother unless it's really going to make a difference?'”

Headline Links: Jackie Speier, fierce political opponent

Key player: Jackie Speier

Reference links: Investigation of the Jonestown Cult

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