The 23rd Congressional District seat is one of a minority of fuzzy chairs that won’t have a Republican keeping it warm.
In an overwhelming victory, Democratic congressional candidate Lois Capps took approximately 61 percent of the vote in Santa Barbara County and 60 percent district-wide. Her opponent, Republican Beth Rogers, received only 36.9 percent of the county’s vote and approximately 40 percent district-wide. Capps, an incumbent candidate has been in office since 1998. Both candidates held election parties Tuesday night and were present when the official results were announced.
Lois Capps, who was introduced by her three grandsons at her election party held at the downtown restaurant Nu, centered her speech on her commitment to family.
“This is about family, isn’t it?” Capps said. “This is our family on the Central Coast. This election is about people in this area who treasure our natural resources.”
Despite losing to Capps in the race for the 23rd District seat, Rogers said at her election party held at the Earl Warren Showgrounds she thoroughly enjoyed her campaign and appreciated all the support she received from family and friends.
Rogers did express disappointment in the result during her concession speech and wondered what the outcome would have been under different circumstances.
“If I was running against and had lost to Lois Capps and she weren’t an incumbent, I would have to kill myself,” Rogers said.
Capps offered her congratulations to Beth Rogers and her campaign. She then recognized her volunteers and campaign staff, her family, the UCSB Campus Democrats, veterans, organized labor and supporters from Oxnard and other areas of Ventura County that have recently been incorporated into the 23rd District.
To the approval of the crowd, Capps highlighted some of the major issues of her platform. She expressed her anti-war position as well as her support for affordable prescription drugs for seniors, smaller classroom sizes, environmental protection and working families.
“[This election] has supported, for our children and our children’s children, a coastline free of oil drilling and pollution,” she said. “We want uncrowded schools for our children; that should be something we expect from a civilized society.”
Michael Warnken, a Republican and senior business economics major, said it was impossible for a Republican to be elected in the 23rd District. Despite the efficiency of Republican voters and the low turnout of Democratic voters, he said Republicans are too outnumbered to expect a victory.
“[Rogers] did pretty well considering she is in a left-wing district and against an incumbent,” Warnken said.
Talia Akins, a Republican and program officer for the Young America’s Foundation, said Rogers ran a really strong campaign, but was too conservative on enough issues in such a liberal district that running on the Republican ticket led her to inevitable defeat.
“Being a Republican was enough for her to lose,” Akins said.
Capps said she was proud and humbled by the overwhelming support of her constituents. She said the election was a firm statement made by the voters.
“We’re not going to be content with the way things are at this moment,” Capps said. “We have brighter dreams and stronger visions.”
Upon concluding her concession speech, Rogers said she planned to take a break before deciding in what direction her political endeavors would take. She said she had no intention of dropping out of politics, even though plans to run for Congress again are uncertain.
“[My campaign was] a wonderful thing to do and there are plenty of other wonderful things to do in politics,” Rogers said. “I was expecting to go to Congress, so I don’t have any definite plans yet. But I have my family and business to keep me busy for the meantime.”
Capps said she was honored by the presence of so many high school and college students at her election party.
“This future belongs to young people and we value their commitment,” she said.
Capps said she will work hard for higher education and focus her efforts on UCSB.
“We’ve already received a big grant for the marine sanctuary on campus,” she said. “There’s no end to what we can do. I want to make it easier to go to college, easier to receive loans and scholarships. I plan to make it easier to receive a higher education.”