Santa Barbara’s congressional candidates slip up as mail in ballots go out

With mail in ballots sent out this week, the race to represent Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo County in Congress is nearing the finish line. But, not without a couple slip ups. Democrat Salud Carbajal and Republican Justin Fareed are running to replace Congresswoman Lois Capps in the 24th District seat.

Here’s what political writer Jerry Roberts has seen lately:

Carbajal dissed Lompoc

Last month when talking to a friend, Carbajal jokingly called the city of Lompoc the “armpit” of Santa Barbara County. The comment was overheard by a political opponent and quickly spread to local media. It sparked small protests by Lompoc residents outside Carbajal’s political headquarters in downtown Santa Barbara, and an attack ad by Fareed.

“It seems silly, but it’s important because the north part of the district is considerably more conservative,” said Roberts. An elitist comment coming from a liberal Democrat may resonate poorly with voters in that area.

Fareed tap danced around Trump

After a 2005 video of Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump making lewd comments about women was released, both Fareed and Carbajal denounced Trump’s comments. But Carbajal went a step further by saying if Fareed wants to represent Central Coast values, he should publicly call for Trump to step down as his party’s candidate.

Fareed did not. And, although he hasn’t endorsed Trump by name, Fareed has given that indication to local community papers. Now he’s having to tap dance around the question of whether he’s for or against Trump. “Carbajal and the Democrats are doing their best to tar him with that brush,” said Roberts.

Big money poured in

With over $6 million spent, this is one of the most expensive races in the country. Most of the money is coming from outside the county, through both the Republican and Democratic national committees as well as Super PACs.

“Republicans had a sense that they could turn the district seat from blue to red,” said Roberts, but House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Xavier Becerra and other Democrats are using their clout to keep it blue.


Find all our election coverage at kcrw.com/elections.