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Government and Politics

Candidates already lining up to run for Lois Capps' seat in 2016

Roll Call video

Central Coast Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) announced Wednesday that she will not run again for her seat in Nov. 2016. She made the announcement in a video saying, "it's been a hard decision to make."

Rep. Capps says she's looking forward to the next 22 months and will serve during that time with the same passion she's brought to the job since joining Congress in 1998.

Capps initially ran in a special election to replace her late husband Walter Capps, who died of a heart attack.

The Congresswoman most recently defeated Republican Chris Mitchum during a heated campaign in 2014. In February, Mitchum filed a lawsuit against Capps regarding a campaign ad that featured a portion of a Mitchum interview on Cal Poly's CPTV. The suit claims that Capps misled voters by taking that comment out of context.

Political insiders had been speculating whether she would retire this term, after the close race last November. Cal Poly Political Science Professor Mike Latner says he believes the upcoming race to fill her seat will be the one to watch in 2016.

"You have a number of candidates in the Santa Barbara area that are very active and engaged in the Democratic politics—and the statewide Democratic politics—but then you've got folks like Bill Ostrander with Citizens Congress and Sam Blakeslee, obviously is a San Luis Obispo favorite," said Latner. "There are a lot of folks who could put a twist on this race, depending who jumps in."

It didn't take long for candidates to enter the race for the seat. Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider announced her bid Tuesday, and fellow Democrat Salud Carbajal jumped in a short time later. Also entering the race is Republican Justin Fareed, who ran for the seat during the primaries in 2014. 

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who is also retiring, said in a press statement that Capps has devoted her life to fighting for the things that matter.

"She is one of the finest and most beloved members of Congress, and the people of the Central Coast have been fortunate to have her as their representative for the last two decades," Boxer said.

Central Coast Congressman Sam Farr (D-Carmel) tweeted out his support for his colleague of many years saying, "Thank you @RepLoisCapps for all your hard work for California. You will be missed in Congress."

State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) said, "There is no one who has worked harder or cared more deeply about the people of the Central Coast and the issues that affect us. She has fought for the environment, for our coastline, for healthcare and for our veterans. Her energy, integrity and commitment are unmatched, and she will be sorely missed.”

Even President Barak Obama's office issued a statement on Tuesday to remark on Capps' retirement plans saying, "I look forward to working with Congresswoman Capps over the next two years, and Michelle and I wish her all the best in her future endeavors."