Democratic candidate and outgoing Santa Barbara County 1st District Supervisor Salud Carbajal was leading Republican candidate and businessman Justin Fareed in the 24th District Congressional race with 54 percent to Fareed’s 46 percent and approximately a 16,000 vote difference as of noon on Nov. 9. But ballots are still being counted.
When longtime U.S. Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) announced her retirement from the seat last year, the battle over who would take it started almost immediately. Republicans vied to pull power from a long-standing Democratic-leaning district while Democrats strained to keep that seat and money poured in during the primary. Even more money bombarded the district in the general election. Total contributions to Carbajal’s campaign between April 15, 2015, and Oct. 19, 2016, were more than $2.8 million, according to Federal Election Commission filings. Fareed’s campaign reported contributions of more than $2.1 million between Jan. 1, 2015, and Oct. 19, 2016.
Political Action Committees, the candidates, and their respective parties were fully entrenched, sending mailers, airing TV and radio attack ads, hijacking Facebook feeds, and filling email inboxes with press releases. Democrats tried to connect Fareed to Trump, while Republicans tried to connect Carbajal to oil interests.
Christiana Purves, a spokes person for Fareed’s campaign, said they are still holding out for a win. Purves said they reached out to both Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo county election officers, who told the campaign that each had ballots left to count.
Fareed’s campaign said in an emailed statement to New Times, “There are potentially more than 100,000 ballots left to be counted, and we look forward to seeing the results as they come in.”
As of noon on Nov. 9, a spokesperson with the Santa Barbara County Elections Office said that 59,300 ballots had yet to be counted.
New Times couldn’t confirm similar information from the SLO County election office. By law, each county has 30 days to count the remaining ballots.
But Carbajal is claiming victory. When asked about the prospect of representing the Central Coast in a Republican-controlled Congress with Donald Trump as the president-elect, Carbajal said he was “obviously disappointed and disheartened,” but is looking forward to working with “anyone and everyone” in Congress.