Thursday, November 15 , 2018, 10:20 pm | Fair 52º


Capps Hangs On to Keep 24th District Congressional Seat

She outlasts Republican Chris Mitchum, taking 51.6% of the vote to 48.4% for the challenger

After a tough race and rigorous campaign, Rep. Lois Capps celebrated victory Tuesday night surrounded by family and supporters, savoring a win that will allow her to begin her ninth term in Congress.

The incumbent held off a strong challenge from Republican Chris Mitchum for the 24th Congressional District seat, with 51.6 percent of the vote across Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and parts of Ventura Counties. 

Mitchum trailed in the race at 48.4 percent, a difference of less than 5,000 votes, a close contest for Capps, who has been a fixture in the seat for the past 16 years.

Capps was surrounded by family and supporters at SoHo Restaurant and Bar on State Street, which was filled with a celebratory spirit as she thanked her campaign team.

As she spoke about her victory, Capps said that challenges waiting in Washington upon her return from the Central Coast are "enormous."

"We are celebrating tonight, and yet we are so aware, this is tough place to be in the United States of America," she told the crowd.

Republican Chris Mitchum joined supporters at the Doubletree Hotel in Santa Barbara. Despite a strong showing, he wasn't able to unseat Rep. Lois Capps for the 24th District congressional post. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Capps will be returning to Washington in the wake of some serious losses for the Democratic party.

On Tuesday,  Republicans gained control of the U.S. Senate for the first time in eight years, unseating some key players in democratic strongholds,

"We've had some setbacks this evening," she said. "We're going to redouble our efforts."

Some of those efforts important to Capps are making college more affordable, continuing to watch the Affordable Care Act proceed in the state, making Medicare solvent, and ensuring that Social Security is there for a younger generation, she said.

"It's a tall order... We can do it when we put our hearts together," she said.

Capps has held the office for the past 16 years, and  Mitchum, a Republican and former actor, ran unsuccessfully against her in 2012.

Capps outspent Mitchum by a large margin, and numbers from last week showed that she had raised more than $2 million in her re-election effort.

Noozhawk reported last week that Mitchum had loaned himself more money than he’s raised, with $149,000 in contributions and $212,000 in loans, but had received support from state and national-level Republican players.

Earlier in the evening on Tuesday, Mitchum told Noozhawk that he was disappointed that Capps would not accept a debate invitation during her campaign.

Mitchum, who was watching returns come in at the Fess Parker Doubletree Hotel with his campaign staff and supporters, also said that Republicans had seen huge gains on the national level, even if he himself had not been one of them.

"It's because the country's going in the wrong direction," he said, adding that unemployment is still high, and that locally the effects are being felt, with many vacant storefronts on State Street.

"Eight years ago, you didn't see that," he said.

Capps officials admitted that the race was a tough one, and said they'd taken a grassroots campaign approach, with Capps making a dizzying number of public appearances in the weeks before the election.

On Tuesday, the day had begun for campaign staff at 5 a.m. in Isla Vista, where they spent hours canvassing and distributing door hangers, extra effort that paid off for Capps in the long run.

This year brought about a closer race with lower turnout expected, and the number of registered voters more balanced between Democrats and Republicans in the district.

California Congressional districts were redrawn in 2010, making Capps' once mostly-coastal district expand to include all of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, and a small portion of Ventura County.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.