Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, was elected to her seventh term Tuesday, beating out three newcomers and winning 85,555 votes, or 57.1 percent.
The three-county 23rd Congressional District stretches from Oxnard in Ventura County to the south to the San Luis Obispo County-Monterey County line in the north.
Republican Tom Watson, a technology entrepreneur and retired Navy aviator, was the strongest challenger to Capps, nabbing 57,500 votes, or 38.4 percent. Watson beat out four other Republicans in the June primary election with 36 percent of the vote.
Independent John Hager, a Santa Barbara lawyer, pulled in 4,229 votes, or 2.8 percent, and Libertarian Darrell Stafford, a retired finance director from Arroyo Grande, garnered just 2,468 votes, or 1.6 percent.
Capps was all smiles Tuesday night, flanked by Democratic supporters in downtown Santa Barbara. While Republicans were sweeping to the majority in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Capps said the local problems of unemployment and foreclosures are nonpartisan issues that all politicians must work on.
“The problems are the same so we’ll keep working on them,” she said. “I’ve been in the minority before and I always try to work across the aisle.”
After so many years in office, she said she gets energized with each trip home to Santa Barbara. She said the passage of local bond measures for the Santa Barbara School Districts, which she advocated for at a news conference last week, shows that people still care despite tough times.
In San Luis Obispo County, Capps received 54.65 percent, or 22,164 votes, to Watson’s 16,457 votes. Hager received 1,107 votes, and Stafford pulled in 804 votes.
In Santa Barbara County, Capps’ 39,349 votes far outmatched Watson’s 28,422. Hager had his strongest showing in Santa Barbara County, with 1,937, while Stafford garnered 895.
In Ventura County, Capps brought in 24,042 votes to Watson’s 12,621, with Hager nabbing 1,185 votes and Stafford getting 769 votes. A write-in candidate received 132 votes.