One of the most expensive races is right here in Santa Barbara

The race to represent the Central Coast in Congress has shaped up to be one of the most expensive races in the country.

Democrat Salud Carbajal and Republican Justin Fareed are vying to replace retiring congresswoman Lois Capps and serve California’s 24th district, which includes Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo County. Spending on the race has hit $5.5 million, making it the 6th most expensive race nationwide.

Reporter Javier Panzar is writing about it for the L.A. Times, and spoke with KCRW’s Larry Perel.

KCRW: Money is coming in on both sides. Let’s start with Salud Carbajal. Where is the majority of his money coming from?

Panzar: Carbajal is getting a lot of money from committees and individual donors in Santa Barbara, as well as national committees. A lot of his outside money is coming from two groups: The House Majority PAC and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which are both deeply tied into the Democratic political machine.

You wrote in your article that the money flowing into Justin Fareed’s campaign had murkier origins than Carbajal’s. What do you mean by that?

The outside money coming in to support Carbajal is from two well known, well established Democratic groups. When the House Majority PAC invested in Carbajal’s race, the group sent out press releases announcing it to the world.

The money that came in to support Fareed came from a group called Citizen Super PAC, which is a conduit for donors to contribute money to. You have to look at a lot of Federal Election Commission filings to find out who’s giving money, and then find those people to ask them why.

One particular donor is Robert Murray, the CEO of the Murray Energy Corporation, an Ohio-based coal giant. He and his company have contributed to Fareed’s campaign proper, as well as $100,000 to a super PAC called New Generation and $40,000 to the Citizen Super PAC.

We’re less than two months away from election day. What else do you think we’re going to see in this race?

On paper, it should be a safe Democratic district during a presidential election year. The democrats have a six percent advantage among registered voters, and Democrats turn out in presidential years more than they do in off years. So, it’ll be a question of whether or not Fareed can raise enough money to run a competitive TV and radio program and get people out to vote for him. Santa Barbara is a cheaper media market than LA and the Bay Area, so your money can go far.

Take a look at both candidate’s newest ads here:

For all of KCRW’s coverage of the 24th congressional race, click here.