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Carbajal, Fareed Prepare to Battle in 24th District Congressional Runoff

Santa Barbara congressional hopefuls Salud Carbajal and Justin Fareed appear to have clinched the top two spots for a November face-off after a primary battle fueled by millions of dollars and nine candidates.

Carbajal, in his third term as a Santa Barbara County supervisor, had the backing of the Democratic Party establishment, the most money, and the endorsement of Democratic incumbent Rep. Lois Capps, who is retiring after her term expires.

He easily won the top spot Tuesday night with leads in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, and a total 32.7 percent of the vote, according to semi-official election night results. 

He dominated Santa Barbara County with 35.9 percent of the vote and a 10,680-vote lead over second-place Fareed.

Fareed, who works at his family’s sports medical device company, came in ahead of fellow Republican and long-time state Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian of San Luis Obispo County, with strong support throughout the district. 

Achadjian was second even in his home county, with 26.6 percent of the vote, and fourth in Santa Barbara County, where Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider came in third with 17.8 percent of the vote.

Salud Carbajal Click to view larger
Salud Carbajal

Semi-official election night results show the final ranking of the nine candidates as: Carbajal, Fareed, Achadjian, Schneider, William “Bill” Ostrander, Matt Kokkonen, Steve Isakson, John Uebersax and Benjamin Lucas.

“I’m very pleased that the voters put their trust in me and elevated me to the next step in this campaign, to the general election in November,” Carbajal said Wednesday.

Carbajal said he plans to highlight issues important to working and middle-class families, including raising the minimum wage, extending family leave, universal preschool and passing comprehensive immigration reform – which he says are issues he approaches much differently than whoever he goes up against in November.

“Voters are going to have a real clear contrast no matter who it is. Justin Fareed and Katcho Achadjian both have demonstrated in past debates and forums some real differences with my values,” he said.  

​​When asked about the potential impact of negative advertising in the campaign, Carbajal, who was the top fundraiser in the primary race, said he is an advocate for campaign finance reform, and the amount of spending on both positive and negative advertising was “really unfortunate.” 

Justin Fareed Click to view larger
Justin Fareed

In response to a question about his campaign’s advertisements targeting Schneider over the Highway 101 widening project, Carbajal said, “My campaign did not put forward any negative ads. All of my ads were factual and positive.” 

Fareed said he wasn't surprised he appears to have prevailed over Achadjian, who many observers thought would run more strongly in San Luis Obispo County.

“We have backing from every single corner of this district,” Fareed said, adding that his support comes not only from conservatives and Republicans but also from independents and some Democrats.

"It was a tough battle...I was out every day, all over the Central Coast, meeting with voters."

Fareed slammed Carbajal as a “deeply entrenched career politician," and said he’s looking forward to the coming political fight.

Katcho Achadjian Click to view larger
Katcho Achadjian

“I am excited to go head to head with Salud, because he epitomizes all that is wrong with politics today.”

Contacted Wednesday evening, Achadjian wasn't ready to concede the election, noting that there was still a large number of ballots that hadn’t been tallied, especially in San Luis Obispo County, where a power outage Tuesday night hampered the counting.

“It’s going to be tighter than it is” once those ballots are counted, Achadjian told Noozhawk.

Negative television advertising, much of it aimed at him, was pervasive in the closing weeks of the campaign.

“I’m assuming it played a big role in Santa Barbara County, where I’m less known,” he said, calling the tactics “politics as usual.”

“It took a toll on us, but we kept it clean. I don’t need the job if I can’t make it on my qualifications.”

Assuming the results hold, Achadjian said he will return to running his businesses and working with various local charitable organizations.

He said he hadn’t contemplated a future run for public office.

As would be expected from Santa Barbara County voter registration statistics, Carbajal did well in the Democrat-heavy South Coast while Fareed performed better in about a quarter of the total precincts including leads in Santa Maria, Lompoc, Orcutt and Santa Ynez Valley precincts. 

Republicans Fareed, Achadjian and Kokkonen together received 39.1 percent of the vote in Santa Barbara County, while Democrats Carbajal, Schneider, Ostrander and Lucas received 59 percent of the vote, according to county Elections Office reports.

No party preference candidates Steve Isakson and John Uebersax had 1.8 percent of the vote combined. 

Registration statistics for the county show 42.7 percent of voters were Democrats, 29 percent were Republicans and 23.7 percent were no party preference voters.

Election results aren’t yet final, with tens of thousands of vote-by-mail and provisional ballots left to count.

There are 34,000 additional ballots in Santa Barbara County not included in the semi-official election night total, as of Wednesday night, said Joe Holland, Clerk-Recorder, Assessor and Registrar of Voters.

“Results will change but usually they don’t change dramatically,” he said.

People are keeping an eye on the 24th District Congressional District race, to see if anything will change with the ballots left to be counted, he noted.

With those additional ballots, the county’s June election turnout will be 55.7 percent – impressive for a primary, he said. Final results will be certified 29 days after Election Day.

He expects turnout in the 81- to 87-percent range for November, which is typical for presidential primaries in the county.

San Luis Obispo County reported a 43.3-percent voter turnout for semi-official election night results and a combined 65,420 votes cast in the Congressional race, as of Tuesday night.

Carbajal and Achadjian were close in those results, with Carbajal pulling a 1,611-vote lead to place first as of Tuesday night.

Fareed was third, more than 5,000 votes behind Achadjian.

Only 1,849 votes were cast for the race in Ventura County, with vastly different rankings from the other two counties within the Congressional district.

Schneider led the field with 29 percent of the vote, followed by Carbajal, Fareed, Ostrander, Kokkonen, and then Achadjian.

County Board of Supervisors races

The two-candidate Santa Barbara County supervisor races for the First District and Fourth District were decided Tuesday night, with the top vote-getters ahead by large margins.

Das Williams, a state Assemblyman and former Santa Barbara City Councilman, won the First District seat with 59 percent of the vote against Jennifer Christensen, who works as the county investment officer.

Christensen had a lead in just seven of 44 precincts in the supervisorial district, including the four Montecito precincts, according to county Elections Office data.

With semi-official election night results in, Buellton-area resident Joan Hartmann and Santa Ynez resident Bruce Porter were the top two vote-getters in the Third District race, which will go to a run-off in November.

Five candidates went for the seat to represent the Third District — which includes the Isla Vista area, the Santa Ynez Valley and Vandenberg Village – and Isla Vista resident Jay Freeman came in third with 11.2 percent of the vote.

Hartmann and Freeman both had strong support in Isla Vista and Goleta, while Porter was stronger in Solvang, Buellton and the Santa Ynez Valley, according to precinct data.

Fourth District Supervisor Peter Adam easily won re-election with 69 percent of the vote against challenger Eduardo “Eddie” Ozeta, a county eligibility worker and union leader.

Ozeta’s strongest performances were in Orcutt and Lompoc, getting 46.7 percent of the vote in one Lompoc precinct, according to county Elections Office data. 

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli 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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