Central Coast voters got their first chance Tuesday to weigh in on the newly drawn 24th congressional district, and among the field of four candidates in California’s open primary, the top two will move to a runoff in November: Democrat Lois Capps and Republican Abel Maldonado.
Capps, of Santa Barbara, has been in Congress since 1998 and for much of that time has represented the coastal strip of San Luis Obispo County, as well as the city of San Luis Obispo. The newly drawn 24th District now covers all of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, plus a small part of Ventura County.
Maldonado of Santa Maria was vying against Republican Chris Mitchum of Santa Barbara. Matt Boutté of San Luis Obispo, who had no party affiliation, rounded out the field.
As the race between Capps and Maldonado now begins in earnest, expect her campaign to criticize Maldonado for not paying taxes the IRS says are owed from the Republican’s Santa Maria farming operation.
For his part, Maldonado will blame Capps, as a Democrat, for failing to help improve the economy — a theme the GOP has already been leveling against Democratic incumbents.
State legislative races
The state Senate and Assembly contests for San Luis Obispo County had only two candidates per race, so Tuesday’s primary was a test run and they will face off again in November.
In the Senate race, Carmel Democrat Bill Monning cruised to a win over Republican Larry Beaman of Scotts Valley, a town near Santa Cruz.
San Luis Obispo Republican Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian easily outpaced Paso Robles Democrat Gerald Manata.
The noteworthy aspect of the Senate race is that San Luis Obispo County could have a Democrat representing it in Sacramento’s upper chamber for the first time since 2003, when Jack O’Connell left office because of term limits.