The political world has changed dramatically over the past two years, but this much has stayed the same: Republican Justin Fareed is again gunning for a seat in Congress, but he’ll have to push veteran politician Salud Carbajal out of the way to get it.
Two years ago, Carbajal, a Democrat, defeated Fareed by 7 percentage points to take the 24th District seat, following one of the most expensive congressional races in U.S. history.
Now, they’re back at it: Fareed, a 30-year-old Young Gun (yes, that’s an official title awarded by the National Republican Congressional Committee) is taking on not only Carbajal, but also the entire “broken” Washington establishment.
But not so fast. Fareed, 30, is no more prepared for office today than he was two years ago.
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He’s now president of the family business, Pro Band Sports Industries, rather than vice president.
And since the last election, he traveled to Israel to study how the country deals with its chronic water shortage.
“This experience gave me hands-on knowledge to work to solve our water crisis early on in Congress,” he told The Tribune.
But in terms of real-world political experience, Fareed is still relying on a post-college, 15-month stint as a congressional aide as evidence of his ability to “build consensus” and get things done in Washington.
The fact is, Fareed has no experience in elected office.
Instead of focusing on his own accomplishments, he demonizes Carbajal’s voting record and manufactures scandals where none exist.
The latest example: Fareed issued a news release condemning Carbajal for “taking money from someone who’s accused of violence against women,” namely Colorado Rep. Jared Polis.
Polis was accused back in 1999 of pushing an employee of his private company into a file cabinet. Police were called to the scene and found the employee — who had resigned and was in the act of cleaning out her desk — had private records belonging to the company in her bag, amounting to an attempted “theft of trade secrets,” according to a police report.
For Fareed to use this as evidence that Carbajal “affiliates” with men accused of violence against women is an act of pure desperation.
On top of that, the Fareed campaign is relentless in its release of attack ads that criticize Carbajal for voting with his Democratic colleague on issues like Kate’s Law, which imposes longer prison sentences on immigrants who re-enter the country illegally.
Fareed says Carbajal’s vote against Kate’s Law “puts our families at risk.”
Carbajal says he would have voted for the law if it had been amended to exempt human trafficking victims and asylum seekers.
Here’s the crux of it: Carbajal is a Democrat and, yes, in most cases he votes with his party, just as most Republicans vote with their party.
Carbajal is not trying to soft-pedal his liberalism to make himself more palatable to conservatives.
He’s doing exactly what the majority of constituents in his district want him to do on issues such as gun control and energy and the environment. For example, he sponsored a bill to ban oil drilling off the California Coast and he introduced a Gun Violence Restraining Order Act, to allow family members to apply for court orders to keep guns away from loved ones who are a danger to themselves or others.
Carbajal also has pushed for emergency response funding and equipment after the district was hard hit by wildfires and mudslides. And he sponsored the Energy Opportunity Zone Act that would provide incentives to attract clean-energy businesses to the Central Coast, to offset jobs that will be lost when Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant closes.
(When The Tribune asked Fareed how he would help the Central Coast recover from the loss of Diablo, he suggested converting the plant’s desalination to broader use. Not a bad idea — except state Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham already has been working on that.)
Overall, Carbajal has been steady, hard-working (he has one of the best attendance records in the House, having missed only 0.1 percent of votes in 2017) and he’s made a real effort to reach across the aisle, especially to Republican members of his freshman congressional class. For instance, five of the 12 bills and resolutions he sponsored in 2017 had Republican co-sponsors.
He’s stayed true to his values; we know what we’re getting with Carbajal.
The same cannot be said about Fareed.
On one of the most controversial issues in the district — proposed expansions of both on- and offshore oil production — he won’t give a yes or no answer.
Here’s the response he recently gave The Tribune: “I support common-sense and conscientious measures that leverage innovative technologies to produce energy. I believe we need to have a practical plan to move towards renewable energy in the future.”
He’s also said that expanding offshore oil production is a “moot point” since state and local jurisdictions won’t allow it.
Given that a majority of Californians, and especially Santa Barbarans, oppose expanded offshore oil development, Fareed’s responses aren’t good enough.
His pledge to fix a “broken” Washington also rings hollow. The Republican party is now in control of virtually every branch of the federal government. If they haven’t been able to fix what’s “broken,” what can Fareed do?
Bottom line: Fareed still isn’t ready for Washington.
The Tribune strongly urges voters in the 24th Congressional District to re-elect Rep. Salud Carbajal.