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Santa Maria Democrat and Businessman Plans Challenge to Lois Capps in 2014 Election

Citing nation's economic woes, banker Paul Coyne will run as fiscal conservative for 24th District nomination

Paul Coyne, who describes himself as a fiscally conservative Democrat, plans to challenge Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, for her 24th District seat in Congress in 2014. (Coyne campaign photo)
Paul Coyne, who describes himself as a fiscally conservative Democrat, plans to challenge Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, for her 24th District seat in Congress in 2014. (Coyne campaign photo)

A Santa Maria resident and self-described “fiscally conservative Democrat” is set to challenge long-serving Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, for her 24th District seat in the 2014 election.

Political newcomer Paul Coyne said a love for the Central Coast community where he grew up and a need for positive change compelled him to file to run for Congress.

The deluge of negative television campaign ads funded last fall by supporters of Capps and her Republican opponent, Abel Maldonado, “put me over,” Coyne told Noozhawk.

“I was very disappointed,” said the 49-year-old Union Bank manager.

Coyne, who grew up in Goleta in what he says was “a liberal household,” said he disagrees with the 75-year-old Capps hanging onto the seat she has occupied for 15 years, making decisions based on her Democratic Party affiliation rather than the best solutions.

He said he is a proud member of the middle class, with more than 30 years of business and banking experience, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from UC Santa Barbara.

“Honestly, I think of it as a strength and not a negative,” Coyne said of never holding a public office. “I’ve always thought about going into public service. I tend to be a solution-oriented person.”

Coyne, who is Catholic and pro-life on abortion, said he hopes to gather votes as a “center candidate” for the district, which includes Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, and a portion of western Ventura County.

He outlines his platform and 60-day action agenda on his campaign website, which went live this month. Addressing the federal deficit, balancing the budget and establishing term limits are near the top of the list.

Coyne has personally pledged that he would serve no more than four terms — eight years — in the House of Representatives if elected next year.

In a statement last week, Capps would not comment on the election that is still a year off.

“It’s an honor to represent the Central Coast for another term in Congress,” she said. “Right now I am focused on representing my constituents’ interests and working across the aisle to get things done in Washington. Our country faces a number of challenges, from creating jobs to reducing the deficit to fixing our broken immigration system, and we’ll only be able to address these challenges by putting aside politics and working together.”

Coyne said that while he has always supported Capps, he believes he is the positive, homegrown change residents are seeking.

“Right now we’re getting the word out,” he said. “I think our financial stability is out of whack right now. I know a lot about business. The way we’re spending before money comes in is going to stop.”

Coyne, who has three children ages 17, 15 and 5, intends to make the campaign his full-time job come April 1. At the top of his to-do list is opening an office in Santa Maria, something Capps doesn’t have. The congresswoman plans to open one in the city later this week.

“I’m hopeful for local support,” he said. “This is my passion. We need some more energy. The only way to implement change is to change the representation.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff 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.

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