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Local News

Poll Shows Frank Hotchkiss, Cathy Murillo Leading in Santa Barbara Mayor’s Race

Independent survey also finds broad support for sales tax increase to 8.75%

Frank Hotchkiss leads all candidates in the Santa Barbara mayor’s race, according to poll results released Sunday.

In the survey, Hotchkiss leads with 19 percent of the vote, followed by Cathy Murillo at 16 percent, Hal Conklin at 10 percent, Angel Martinez at 9 percent and Bendy White at 6 percent.

Four out of 10 likely voters are still undecided, the poll states.

| Election 2017 | Complete Series Index |

The telephone poll was funded by Calbuzz, a California politics website co-founded by veteran journalists Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine. The poll was conducted by Validity Research, and the results were published on the Newsmakers with Jerry Roberts blog.

The poll was conducted Oct. 18 and 19 and it has a statistical margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.

Hotchkiss told Noozhawk that the results were consistent with what his internal campaign polling showed.

“It is encouraging, but it doesn’t change our strategy,” said Hotchkiss, who was walking precincts on the Mesa on Sunday afternoon.

He said the campaign was like climbing Mount Everest because he is taking on challengers who are far better funded.

“Other campaigns have two or three times as much money as we have, but they don’t have the ground game that we have,” he said.

Hotchkiss, a two-term city councilman who is prevented by term limits from running a third time, said he will finish the campaign strong because “there are two Dems (meaning Murillo and Conklin, both Democrats) very much in close striking distance. It’s a three-person race right now but hopefully I end up the first person.”

Mollie Culver, Murillo’s campaign manager, said she is encouraged by the poll results.

“This poll makes it very clear that Councilwoman Cathy Murillo is the only viable progressive candidate in the mayor’s race,” she said. “I trust that voters will recognize that we need an experienced, progressive leader who can build consensus to address the issues our city is facing.”

Conklin disagreed. He said he could close the distance on Hotchkiss and Murillo because of the large number of undecided voters.

He noted that the poll results showing Murillo with support from less than 20 percent of voters — even after nearly two years of campaigning — demonstrate that she is not the unifying Democratic Party candidate.

Conklin said Murillo has peaked and likely won’t gain new voters.

“It’s a wide open race,” he said. “As long as Angel (Martinez) stays in the race, it denies Frank what he needs. It give us a great opportunity to close the gap.”

Brian Robinson, Martinez’s campaign manager, suggested that many of the undecided voters will turn toward his candidate because they are turned off by the incumbents, all of them veteran council members.

“A majority of undecided voters think the city is on the wrong track,” he said. “Why would you vote for an incumbent if you thought the city was on the wrong track? We knew there were a lot of undecided voters. We see them breaking for us.”

White did not return Noozhawk’s phone calls.

Nearly half of likely Santa Barbara voters — 49 percent — said the city is on the right track, the poll found. The city is on the wrong track, according to 35 percent with 16 percent saying they didn’t know.

The pollsters also asked about Measure C, the proposed sales tax measure that would raise Santa Barbara’s rate to 8.75 percent from 7.75 percent. According to the poll, 54 percent of those polled supported the tax increase, 32 percent opposed it and 14 percent were undecided.

| Election 2017 | Complete Series Index |

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina 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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