Allegations of intimidation and retaliation mar Congressional race
February 16, 2016
By KAREN VELIE
With the June primary less then four months away, entrenched Democratic party leaders are backing Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal for the 24th District congressional seat while supporters of his chief Democratic rival, Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, allege political intimidation.
Shortly after Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) announced last spring that she would not be running for reelection, Capps and House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi endorsed Carbajal. Since then, party insiders have pushed to get Capps’ handpicked candidate the party endorsement.
On the other side, Schneider’s campaign has charged democratic leaders with political intimidation and retribution. Specifically that they were pressuring delegates to vote for Carbajal.
“The deeper I get into my Congressional campaign, the more clear it becomes that the system is rigged, meant to protect the politically-connected, the powerful or their hand-picked successors,” Schneider said in a statement released shortly before Democratic delegates voted on the party endorsement.
Late last month, 83 percent of the 24th District’s Democratic Party delegates voted to give Carbajal the party endorsement. The district’s vote is likely to secure Carbajal the state Democratic Party endorsement which allows him to use the state Democratic Party’s logos on mailers as well as other campaign perks.
And while party insiders are backing Carbajal, polls show the voting public favor Schneider.
Last July, Schneider’s campaign conducted a poll of 350 voters that showed Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian in the lead with 24 percent, 23 percent for Schneider, 15 percent for Carbajal, 14 percent for Justin Fareed and 2 percent for William Ostrander. The survey, conducted by Lake Research Partners, had a margin of error of plus or minus 5.2 percent.
In mid January, Achadjian’s campaign released a poll conducted by Moore Information that also placed Achadjian in first place. After Moore Information provided only the name, occupation and political party of the candidates, 19 percent of respondents said they would vote for Achadjian and 12 percent for each Schneider and Carbajal.
After respondents “learned more about” Achadjian from Moore Information, 29 percent said they would vote for Achadjian, 12 percent selected Schneider; 11 percent picked Carbajal; 4 percent chose Fareed and 3 percent picked Ostrander. The survey of 405 voters had a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.
The 24th Congressional District consists of all of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties and part of Ventura County. Voter registration is close to an even split between Democrats and Republicans, with Democrats at 37 percent, Republicans at 34 percent and decline to state at 23 percent.
Candidates include Republicans Achadjian, Fareed and Matt Kokkonen; Democrats Schneider, Carbajal, Ostrander and Jeff Oshins; and independents Steve Isakson and John Uebersax.
The primary election for the congressional race is set for June 7.