Two vie to take on Rep. Capps in Central Coast race
Former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado jumped to an early lead Tuesday over actor Chris Mitchum for the chance to take on Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) in the fall.
Early returns showed Capps with nearly half the vote. Maldonado was running well ahead of Mitchum for the second spot on the November ballot. Both are Republicans.
A serious reelection challenge to Capps was almost assured after an independent commission last summer redrew her district, which was once Democrat-friendly but was also derided as the "ribbon of shame" for its blatantly gerrymandered shape along the coast.
In the new district, Democrats have only a slight edge over Republicans, 39%-35%, and a fifth of voters are not affiliated with a political party.
Maldonado, a former state senator who angered his party by voting in 2009 to raise taxes to balance the state budget, had the backing of Republican leaders for the congressional race.
The more conservative Mitchum, son of the late actor Robert Mitchum, campaigned on a hard line against illegal immigration, the Obama healthcare plan and more taxes.
Also on the ballot in the 24th Congressional District was law student Matt Boutte, who ran with no party preference.
Photo: Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara), left,former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria), middle, GOP actor Chris Mitchum of Santa Barbara, right. Credit: Los Angeles Times; Associated Press; Los Angeles Times