Rep. Capps gears up to run for the new 24th District

The Tribune

As the California Citizens Redistricting Commission announced tentative boundaries Friday for new Congressional, state Senate and Assembly districts, possible candidates, led by Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, began jockeying to position themselves for the 2012 elections.

Capps, the longtime Democratic representative of the Central Coast, announced that she will run in the new 24th District. The district, whose boundaries have not been finalized, draws in more conservative voters than Capps has faced over the past decade, and political observers give Republicans a better chance to win the seat than they have had in a decade.

Negative advertisements attacking Capps already have hit the local airwaves.

Abel Maldonado, the Republican former mayor of Santa Maria who has also served as state assemblyman, state senator and appointed lieutenant governor, has declared his intention to run against Capps.

Republican state Sen. Sam Blakeslee reiterated Friday that he wants to see the final boundaries before he decides whether to enter the race.

Despite the boundary changes, Capps said much of the district will retain places she has long represented.

She called it “a wonderfully diverse array of communities, from coastal communities like Cambria, Santa Barbara and Carpinteria, to vital agricultural centers such as Paso Robles, Santa Maria and the Santa Ynez Valley, and important centers of education, military and high tech like San Luis Obispo, Vandenberg Air Force Base and Goleta.”

Meanwhile, Assemblyman Bill Monning, a Democrat, said he likely will run for the Central Coast 15th District state Senate seat now held by Blakeslee.

“If the lines remain the same when they are finalized Aug. 15, I will be a candidate for state Senate in the district that encompasses the Central Coast and southern Santa Clara County,” Monning wrote in a news release.

Monning noted that as an assemblyman, he already represents most of the geographical area that would be included in the proposed state Senate district. Monning won the Assembly seat in 2008 and 2010 with more than two-thirds of the vote.

The new district tentatively includes San Luis Obispo County, all of Santa Cruz County, southern Santa Clara County and coastal Monterey County.