Amid accusations of shady financial dealings and tax evasion, Democratic incumbent Congresswoman Lois Capps and Republican challenger Abel Maldonado are in a clash to represent the 24th District covering Central California (representing Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria, Orcutt, Atascadero, Lompoc, Templeton, Isla Vista and Morro Bay).
In the June primaries, Capps earned 46.5 percent of the vote while Maldonado followed with 30.5 percent.
The candidates will soon go head-to-head in many debates before the Nov. 6 election. Here’s a brief breakdown of how they have voted on major legislation in years past.
After her husband, U.S. Representative Walter Capps, died of a heart attack in 1997, Lois was sworn in by March of the following year to take his place as the congressional representative for the then-22nd District. She has since defended her seat for the past six elections, becoming the first Democrat to represent the district for more than one term in more than 50 years. She currently serves on the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce and holds a master’s degree in education from UCSB.
Capps has voted to cut interest rates on federal student loans and supported the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009, which will increase Pell Grant amounts and availability in the coming decade.
In 2011, Capps voted for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, which passed in Dec. 2011. The act approved $662 billion in defense costs and gave Congress’ affirmation of the president’s authority to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens suspected of involvement in terrorist activities.
Capps, a former nurse, supports the Affordable Care Act, but said more progressive steps can be taken to extend affordable healthcare to those with pre-existing conditions.
Capps supported the 2006 State Assembly bill to fight climate change (Global Warming Solutions Act).
In addition, Capps wrote the Coastal and Estuarine and Land Conservation Program Act to protect the coastal ecosystems around Morro Bay and along the Gaviota Coast.
As a farmer and business owner, former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado focuses on keeping taxes low and supporting small businesses. Maldonado, who identifies as a Republican, began as the mayor of Santa Maria and spent six years in the California State Assembly before being elected to the State Senate in 2004. After six years as a senator, Maldonado was appointed to the post of lieutenant governor for one year but lost the title to Democrat Gavin Newsom in the 2010 race.
Last week, Maldonado was endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
As lieutenant governor, Maldonado voted against the eight percent tuition hike for the UC system in Nov. 2010.
Though Maldonado recognizes some positive aspects of the Affordable Care Act — such as allowing minors to remain on parents’ healthcare policies for longer periods of time — he did not support the measure and felt it was too expensive for the fiscal climate.
Maldonado voted against the 2006 State Assembly bill to fight climate change, warning that the bill’s strict regulations would stifle small businesses.
As one of the “Sacramento Six,” Maldonado and five other Republicans in the Calif. State Legislature voted to pass Gov. Schwarzenegger’s solution to the state’s $41 billion funding gap in 2009. Maldonado originally opposed the measure and held out on his vote until the bill was amended to include a stipulation mandating open, nonpartisan primaries.