Politics & Government

Morro Bay Republican considering another run for Congress

Town hall with U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal draws hundreds in Arroyo Grande

24th District congressman Salud Carbajal responds to a woman who urges the Democrat to help impeach President Donald Trump during a raucous town hall on February 22, 2017, in Arroyo Grande.
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24th District congressman Salud Carbajal responds to a woman who urges the Democrat to help impeach President Donald Trump during a raucous town hall on February 22, 2017, in Arroyo Grande.

Saying it’s time for two-term Central Coast Congressman Salud Carbajal to go, a Morro Bay Republican has once again filed to enter the race for the 24th Congressional District between Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties.

Michael Erin Woody failed last year to secure the endorsement of the San Luis Obispo County Republican Party, which threw its support behind three-time candidate Justin Fareed, who ultimatley lost to Carbajal 58.6 to 41.4%.

On Monday, Woody announced that he filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission for the election 18 months away, a filing that allows him to form an exploratory committee and begin raising money.

Though the FEC’s statement of candidacy filing does not yet place Woody on the 2020 ballot in San Luis Obispo County, it is required by the agency for candidates for federal office if they raise $5,000 or more.

According to the FEC’s online database, Woody’s exploratory committee for the 2019-20 election cycle filed a quarterly statement April 15, when it reported it has spent about $400 but not yet raised any money.

The filing shows that Woody’s committee is funded so far by two loans he made totaling $125,000 to his previous campaign in December 2017 and November 2018.

Should local fundraising pay off, Woody said he expects to formally announce a run this summer.

Woody on Monday released a statement that said that Carbajal “has no respect” for Central Coast voters and “takes your vote for granted.”

“And no matter what your political leanings are, this is unacceptable,” Woody wrote. “Salud Carbajal needs to taught the life lesson of, ‘Stand for something or fall for anything.’”

Woody, 52, has a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University and a bachelor’s in civil engineering from Fresno State University. He’s a member of the Salinan Native American tribe and his family has roots throughout the Central Coast.

He was elected to the Fresno City Council in 1992 at age 26 and served one term before losing a bid for the mayor’s seat in 1996. An attempt to reclaim that council seat came up short in 2000.

Woody said by phone Monday that his education in administration and private sector experience as an engineer makes him uniquely prepared to address the district’s infrastructure needs in water and transportation.

A fiscal conservative with relatively progressive stances on social and environmental issues — he’s adamantly opposed to the expansion of local offshore oil drilling — Woody said he’s considering running because Carbajal has failed to take a public stance on issues important to local voters, and lists the topics of sanctuary cities, universal basic income, and “reparations” as examples.

“The big thing I keep hearing is that Salud Carbajal will not take a position on major issues. It’s a frustration,” he said. “They want to see his true colors.”

Woody said he believes Carbajal is primarily concerned with courting wealthy coastal homeowners and the Hispanic community, while ignoring other demographics.

He claimed that the democratic congressman is out of step with the majority of his district, which Woody says overwhelmingly wanted the passage of Kate’s Law — so named after Cal Poly graduate Kate Steinle, who was killed in 2015 by a stray bullet fired accidentally by an undocumented immigrant — which would have expanded criminal penalties for people convicted of crimes after entering the country illegally. Carbajal voted against the bill.

“He needs to stand up and be counted,” Woody said.

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