New 24th District Complicates Congressional Race
The district, which was re-drawn after last year's census, now includes all of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties, as well as parts of Ventura County. According to the Santa Maria Times, “The inclusion of the more conservative northern Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo County in the district reduced the majority of Democratic voter registration from 12 points to four points."
Rep. Lois Capps, the incumbent, served the old 23rd district since 1998 and will now be running in the 24th district. Capps, a Democratic candidate, swept the primary election in June, garnering 46.5 percent of the vote. Capps' website highlights her track record of focusing on public health issues, which includes passing bills relating to domestic violence, Medicare coverage, health education and underage drinking. She also serves on the Committee of Energy and Commerce in the House of Representatives.
Abel Maldonado, a Republican candidate, earned 30.5 percent of the vote. He has served as mayor of Santa Maria, a State Senator for the 15th district, and briefly was sworn as Lieutenant Governor of California in 2010. So far, his campaign has focused on financial issues, calling for "starting over" on "Obamacare" and cutting unnecessary spending. He has also called for bipartisanship efforts in Washington. He has focused on economic issues, and unlike Capps, his website makes no mention of issues such as environmental conservation, women's rights, LGBT rights and Social Security.
According to his website, it is necessary to "tie the hands of the politicians to stop them from spending too much. We need to bring fiscal restraint to Washington by placing a cap on federal spending to force our government to live within its means.” Maldonado would also support onshore, slant or directional drilling, but does not support offshore drilling.
While Capps also supports financial reform in Washington, her campaign focuses on changing taxes, especially repealing or changing the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy. According to her campaign website, Capps believes that "we also need a simpler and fairer tax code, one that encourages work, savings and opportunity. It must also provide us with the revenue we need to invest in our future." Capps would not support any sort of drilling on the California coast.
Both candidates have had their financial records called into question in recently. According to the Huffington Post, Maldonado severed ties with his family farm in April after he and his wife were accused of owing the government $470,000 in relation to it. His family farm has also been accused by the IRS of underpaying their taxes by $3.6 million between 2006 and 2008.
Capps, on the other hand, has been accused of renting a room to a congressional staffer and not reporting the income to the IRS for approximately a decade, according to the Daily Caller. This could also be a violation of congressional ethics, which does not permit using the office for "private gain."
According to the Santa Barbara Independent, Capps had brought in $400,000 more in campaign funds than Maldonado at the end of July.
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Reach Staff Reporter Nandini Ruparel here.