|Andy Caldwell||104,126 | 38%|
|Salud Carbajal (I)||169,226 | 62%|
Congressman Salud Carbajal has won his bid for reelection in the race for California's 24th Congressional District.
Carbajal jumped out to an early lead over challenger Andy Caldwell after polls closed. With 67% of precincts reporting, the incumbent Carbajal has a sizeable lead over the radio host and government watchdog, leading the Associated Press to call the race in favor of the incumbent.
Full election results can be found here.
Carbajal, the Democratic incumbent in the U.S. House and familiar face in local politics, is vying for a third term representing California’s 24th District, which spans all of San Luis Obispo County, Santa Barbara County and a portion of Ventura County.
The Central Coast native and Marine Corps veteran served 12 years on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors before being elected to Congress in 2016.
“I truly believe that government should work for the people, that public resources should be spent responsibly, and that elected officials at every level of government should be working toward progress and on tangible solutions to the problems our community faces,” Carbajal said in response to a NewsChannel survey asking why he’s running.
Healthcare issues, environmental stewardship, mitigating impacts of climate change, prevention of gun violence, securing affordable housing and reforming the current immigration system are among Carbajal’s top key concerns.
"At the end of the day, what we want is a peaceful transition but I'm optimistic that the American people are tired of governance by tweets and divisiveness and people want to come together. People want a new administration that's going to guide us into a brighter future that's going to bring us together and address the real challenges our country faces: healthcare, climate change, jobs, good paying jobs. I think the American people are ready to make a change," Carbajal said on Election Day.
If re-elected, Congressman Carbajal said he would make COVID-19 recovery a top priority to help people in his district impacted by the pandemic crisis and help small business owners “regain their footing.” The incumbent representative recently recovered from the virus.
Carbajal said he is also a staunch supporter of women’s rights.
“I believe in protecting a woman’s right to choose and making sure that Roe v. Wade is protected,” said Carbajal during a NewsChannel virtual debate with his Republican challenger, Andy Caldwell.
As a husband and father, Carbajal said he wants to see good-paying jobs that allow local families to afford housing and provide a future for their children.
The congressman has helped local communities during and after a myriad of disasters, including the destructive Tea, Jesusita and Thomas Fires as well as the deadly Montecito mud and debris flow of 2018.
Carbajal points to the effects of climate change and continues to fight aggressive efforts for renewed oil and gas drilling onshore and offshore in our region.
The congressman has a long list of bills he authored that successfully made it through the political pipeline, including his very first: the California Clean Coast Act, which permanently bans oil and gas leasing off the Central and South Coast. Carbajal says he is proud of the fact that the bill passed the House with bipartisan support.
The career politician said he believes that working with other governments is the best way to achieve real progress.
“I have worked with Governor Newsom and local officials to bring private and public investment to Vandenberg Air Force Base and the surrounding area. I’ve also worked with our senators to make long overdue safety reforms to small passenger boats after the Conception Boat Fire, introduce gun-safety reforms, and address the COVID-19 outbreak at Lompoc prison. For the government to truly work for the people, we must all work together - regardless of party, and look for solutions that benefit everyone throughout the district.”
While Carbajal hopes voters reward him with a third term, Andy Caldwell is hoping the congressman's constituents are ready for a fresh face and perspective in the House of Representatives.
Caldwell entered his first-ever political campaign knowing he was facing an uphill battle against the two-term incumbent.
Soon after the early polling numbers started to come, in Caldwell acknowledged he was in a losing battle.
"The only chance we have of beating him right now if there was a tremendous turnout at the polls over the weekend and today, other than that, it's probably too big of a gap for us to close," said Caldwell, just minutes after viewing the first numbers posted online.
At an election gathering in Nipomo, Caldwell said he proud of his campaign and would not have changed anything about it.
"It's a lot of hard work, but there's rewards in it," said Caldwell. "You get to meet a lot of cool people that I would had the opportunity to meet, and so for all of that, you know, it's a good experience. It's a duty to country to do this sort of thing and service and that's how I looked it."
Caldwell entered the race more than one year ago and said he worked hard on the campaign every single day.
Looking forward, he said he's ready to go back to his job at the Coalition of Labor Agriculture & Business (COLAB), where he is executive director.
"We had a hard year because of the COVID-19 shutdowns," said Caldwell. "We couldn't do our fundraisers. That was what has hard for us. Our fundraisers got cancelled because of the prohibitions on fundraisers."
He also added he will continue to serve as a local government watchdog, which he has done for more than 30 years.
When asked if he would be interested in running again in the future for this seat again or a different political office, Caldwell was unsure.
"I don't know," said Caldwell. "I did this out of concern for our country, but the voters have the final say."
Reporters Beth Farnsworth and Dave Alley contributed to this report.