Fareed skips debate for football game
November 17, 2015
By JOSH FRIEDMAN
A young Republican congressional candidate skipped a debate hosted by the Santa Barbara County Young Republicans last month in order to attend his alma mater’s college football game. The move has prompted a dispute between the Young Republicans and Justin Fareed’s campaign.
Fareed, 27, is one of three Republican candidates running for the 24th Congressional District seat, which Rep. Lois Capps is vacating. Candidates in the race include Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian (Rep.), Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal (Dem.) and Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider (Dem.). The top two finishers in the primary, regardless of party affiliation, will advance to the general election.
On Oct. 22, a debate occurred between Republican candidates Achadjian and San Luis Obispo businessman Matt Kokkonen. A member of Fareed’s campaign attended on his behalf and issued a brief statement, reportedly saying a family matter caused the absence.
Fareed’s campaign and supporters have given differing accounts of why he did not attend the debate. They all agree, though, that Fareed attended a football game between UCLA and UC Berkeley at the same time as the debate.
Fareed stated in a radio interview he attended the game. Fareed is an alum of UCLA, and he played on the university’s football team.
“I was just down at the UCLA game against Cal, and we looked pretty good out there,” Fareed said on The Before You Go Pro Locker Room radio show.
Robert Mercado, leader of the Young Republicans, said Fareed initially committed to participating in the forum and knew it was a debate.
“He told us he would show,” Mercado said. “He said it was a debate.”
Mercado said Fareed later called and backed out.
“About a week and a half before the debate, he called and expressed he would not be able to attend because of a family matter,” Mercado said, adding that Fareed had agreed to attend the debate months earlier.
In the aftermath of the debate, Kayla Berube, Fareed’s campaign manager, issued a statement saying the candidate could not attend because he had several previous commitments.
“Among them that evening was the football game at UCLA, Justin’s alma mater,” Berube stated.
Berube said the campaign informed the organizers of the debate well in advance that Fareed would not be in attendance. At the debate, Berube reportedly said Fareed backed out two months in advance.
That comment prompted a member of the audience who was upset over Fareed’s absence to interrupt the debate and ask the organizers when the candidate pulled out. An organizer stated Fareed was confirmed as coming two months in advance and backed out a week and a half prior to the debate, according to an audio recording of the debate.
When asked to specify when Fareed notified the organizers and why he canceled, Berube responded Monday with a statement about last week’s terror attacks in Paris and the United States’ commitment to accepting Syrian refugees.
“Until the Obama Administration can provide 100 percent assurance they are not members of ISIS or sympathizers of their terrorist acts, no additional Syrian refugees should be admitted into the United States.”
Fareed is currently mounting his second run for congress. In 2014, he finished third in the primary, narrowly losing to Chris Mitchum in the race to challenge Lois Capps.
Mitchum received 15.8 percent of the vote in the 2014 primary. Fareed received 15.3 percent.
Earlier this year, Fareed picked up an endorsement from U.S. Sen. John McCain.
Berube says Fareed will welcome invitations to future debates.
“Over the coming months, we welcome any invitations to open, public debates will all of the candidates, giving Justin the opportunity to discuss the important issues facing the Central Coast and our nation,” Berube stated. “Voters are tired of career politicians who care more about their next election than the next generation.”
Fareed currently works as vice president of Pro Brand Sports Industries, a manufacturer of sports medical devices. He has also served on the UCLA football coaching staff since his graduation.
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