By Sharon Byrne
It’s spring, and the city’s District Elections lawsuit only just settled. People are starting to look at newly carved-up city maps, and wondering if their district is up this year, who will run, etc.
And out of nowhere, the long-awaited shift in the Congressional District 24 seat hurtled into prime time, completely eclipsing city electoral processes. Lois Capps announced she is retiring. She’s served nine full terms in Congress, since 1998.
Suddenly, a seat many have longed for is wide open.
This seat has always leaned Democratic, and still does. But the redistricting exercise of 2011 and the ‘jungle’ primary of 2012 shifted make-up of the district, as you can see below:
Politico recently noted: “The 24th District has been competitive for multiple cycles and instantly becomes a more likely pick-up opportunity for Republicans in 2016 with Lois Capps’ retirement,” said Zach Hunter, regional spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Now that it’s an open seat, expect a free-for-all, with everyone getting in.
Politico is already speculating the seat could go to Laura Capps, the daughter of Lois Capps, though her tweet on her mom’s retirement was fairly coy on whether she’d run.
The locals, however, lost zero time jumping in. Within hours of Capps’ announcement of her retirement, Mayor Helene Schneider announced she would run for the Congressional seat. This may have surprised some, including the second candidate to announce, Supervisor Salud Carbajal. Helene clearly believes in the bold move. Some chafed online that “the body wasn’t even cold yet” before Helene announced her run, which itself is a bit of a chilling commentary. But politics is about the here-and-now, and Helene is not one to sit on the sidelines and wait to be wooed into the race. She’s showing her campaign style on the big stage, so take note.
Supervisor Carbajal announced that his Congressional run the next day, touting his work on the Climate Task Force in D.C. and his bi-partisan work on the Board of Supervisors.
Those two getting in the race will introduce some serious heartburn for the local Democratic party ranks around here. They’ll both be chasing Democratic party endorsements including the Democratic Central Committee, Democratic Women of Santa Barbara County, and the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee. Both candidates are well regarded and respected within their ranks, making the choice painful. It could end up rather like the city council race of 2013, where endorsements were split between competing candidates. There are also elected Democratic officials’ endorsements to pursue. Expect some wailing and gnashing of teeth as they grind through the machinations of the Democratic party endorsements process.
William Ostrander, a Democrat from San Luis Obispo who played the high school thug in the film “Christine” is also running for Congress in the 24th District. He currently heads the nonprofit Citizens Congress.
So what about Das Williams or Hannah-Beth Jackson for Congress? Das is termed out of the Assembly in 2016, and probably would be expected to enter the Congressional race as an upward career move. But instead he’s entering the First District Supervisor race for the seat currently held by Carbajal. That seat is up in 2016, and Carbajal can’t run for Congress and re-election to his supervisorial seat at the same time. So the plan is for Carbajal to win Congress, and Das to become the new First District Supervisor.
Looking at the Republican field, well, it could include everyone and anyone from Mitchum to Dale Francisco to Justin Fareed, with the latter already announcing his run. Justin fired up some conservatives in 2014, invigorating them with his energy and youth, as he’s in his 20’s. He placed second in the 2014 primary.
Some have wondered if former State Senator Sam Blakeslee will get into the race. Katcho Achadjian, 35th District Assembly Rep, also announced. Both of these gentlemen hail from San Luis Obispo, which has proven to be the place Republicans go to die in Congressional elections. Fielding a San Luis Obispo Republican that can garner robust support up there is probably their best shot at winning the seat.
It’s only April, of 2015, and we’re already looking at a pretty crowded field for this race.
Let the free-for-all begin!
Chart Source: www.aroundthecapitol.com