UPDATE 11:10 a.m. Thursday: Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal has announced that he will run for Lois Capps' 24th District seat in 2016.
Original story: With Lois Capps no longer a contender, three candidates on Wednesday declared their intentions to run for the 24th Congressional District seat in 2016 and speculation flared on who else might step forward now that an open seat makes the race more competitive.
"I'm glad there is going to be less confusion in the field in the form of loyalties," the Democratic candidate said following Capps’ announcement. "This can mean only good things for the district."
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On Wednesday afternoon, Republican Justin Fareed and Democrat Helene Schneider both announced they would run for Capps’ seat, while state Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, a Republican, said he is "seriously considering" entering the race.
"She has been a good voice to the community," Achadjian said of Capps on Wednesday. "I will need to take it under consideration with my team more before we decide to go for it."
Achadjian represents San Luis Obispo and part of Santa Barbara County in the state Assembly, where he will reach term limits in 2016. He has been widely considered a probable candidate for the 24th Congressional District seat.
Fareed, 26, of Santa Barbara ran for the same seat in the 2014 primary but was bested by Republican candidate Chris Mitchum, who later lost the general election to Capps in a hotly contested race.
Schneider, 44, has served as Santa Barbara mayor since 2009, winning re-election in 2013. Before that, she served four years as a Santa Barbara City Council member and spent 11 years in human resources management at Planned Parenthood of Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura Counties.
Beyond the confirmed candidates, rumors abound regarding who else may decide to run for the open congressional seat.
Santa Barbara County 1st District Supervisor Salud Carbajal and Capps' daughter, former Clinton speechwriter Laura Capps — both Democrats — have been among those rumored to be considering bids for the House seat.
Laura Capps and her husband, Bill Burton, a former aide to President Barack Obama, recently moved to Santa Barbara. Laura Capps could not be reached for comment on whether she plans to run for her mother's seat.
Carbajal was unavailable for comment Wednesday on whether he will run for the seat, though in February, he told The Tribune he would consider it if Capps retired.
Dale Francisco, another unsuccessful Republican candidate in the 2014 congressional primary, has also been rumored to be considering a bid, though he could not be reached Wednesday.
Former state Assemblyman and state Sen. Sam Blakeslee, a San Luis Obispo Republican, has said he has no plans to run for any office in 2016.