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Rep. Carbajal holds fundraising lead over Caldwell 

With a year to go in the 2020 election, 24th District Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) is off to a big financial head start against his Republican challenger, radio host and political commentator Andy Caldwell.

As of a Sept. 30 campaign finance filing deadline, the second term congressman and former Santa Barbara County supervisor had amassed $983,220 for his re-election campaign—compared to Caldwell's $67,303.

click to enlarge ELECTION SEASON Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) faces a new election opponent in 2020—radio host and political commentator Andy Caldwell. - FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
  • File Photo By Jayson Mellom
  • ELECTION SEASON Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) faces a new election opponent in 2020—radio host and political commentator Andy Caldwell.

Caldwell announced his candidacy in early August, which may partially explain the huge gap. Yet Caldwell's Sept. 30 finance report falls well short of what his 2018 Republican counterpart, Justin Fareed, raised during the equivalent time period in his campaign.

Between August and October of 2017, Fareed hauled in about $217,000. Fareed then went on to lose to Carbajal by 17 percentage points the following November.

In response to questions about the campaigns' latest filings, Caldwell campaign advisor Tab Berg told New Times that Caldwell's fundraising has picked up significantly since the beginning of October. Caldwell is now up to more than $250,000 in contributions, according to Berg.

"Support for Andy has been phenomenal—fundraising has accelerated," Berg said. "We're building a strong grassroots campaign to expand Andy's existing name ID—but we also fully expect to have the funds needed to get our message to voters."

Berg acknowledged that Caldwell is not likely to win the fundraising battle against Carbajal come Election Day.

"Andy isn't running to be the best fundraiser," he said. "We can't match Salud's fundraising prowess any more than Salud can compete with Andy on the issues."

Carbajal's largest donations, of $5,000, have come from political action committees, mostly representing labor unions. Caldwell had not received a $5,000 donation as of Sept. 30. During the August to Sept. 30 time period, Caldwell raised $67,303 while Carbajal raised about $382,000, according to campaign finance filings.

In the last few election cycles, the 24th District race has drawn millions of dollars to support both the Democratic and Republican candidates. In 2016—an election with no incumbent—Carbajal raised $3.2 million in his winning bid, which garnered him 53.4 percent of the vote, while Fareed raised $2.4 million and received 46.6 percent of the vote. In 2018, incumbent Carbajal sailed to victory with a $2.8 million war chest and 58.6 percent of the vote, while Fareed saw his support taper to $1.5 million and 41.4 percent of the vote.

Carbajal and Caldwell's next deadline to file campaign finance reports is Jan. 31, 2020.

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