For First Time Since Redistricting, California’s 76th Assembly Seat Will Go To A Democrat
Friday, October 26, 2018
Credit: Matt Hoffman & Nicholas McVicker/KPBS
Matt Hoffman, reporter, KPBS News
California's 76th State Assembly district is made up of Oceanside, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Vista and Camp Pendleton.
While voter registration has historically been predominantly Republican, latest figures show Democrats now have an advantage. There are 83,808 Democrats compared to 81,804 Republicans. There are also 74,658 voters who decline to state a party affiliation.
Republican Assemblyman Rocky Chávez has held the 76th since redistricting in 2012. This year he decided to run for Congress but lost. Leaving the Assembly seat up for grabs.
Warren won the primary with 26 percent of the vote, while Boerner Horvath received 25 percent. Six Republicans split the remaining votes. Warren might have benefited from name recognition — U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, is often in the national news.
"I got my start as a mom trying to get in a stop sign near my kids' school," Boerner Horvath said. "Got involved as a PTA mom, and we got that stop sign in that people have been trying to get in for 20 years; we got it in in 6 months by bringing a coalition of people together."
Meanwhile, Warren grew up in Indiana and worked as a journalist before working for nonprofits, including the social justice organization MoveOn.
"Lifelong Democrat," Warren said. "Lifelong sort of social justice advocate you know just in my daily life. I’ve done a lot of volunteer work, always worked in nonprofits."
Among the issues facing the candidates is affordable housing, or the lack of it. Warren said there is not a simple solution to building more housing but believes it should be up to individual cities.
"You look at Vista, and it has an entirely different layout than Encinitas for example," Warren said. "You take a look at what works in Vista isn’t going to work in Encinitas. What works in Encinitas might not work in Oceanside or Carlsbad. So each city I think should have the flexibility to determine for itself what it needs, the state needs to stop issuing these unfunded one-size fits all mandates."
Boerner Horvath agrees that North County presents a unique set of challenges to creating affordable housing.
"I think what’s really important is to find innovative solutions that actually work to increase affordability in high-value land areas like Encinitas, Carlsbad, Oceanside and Vista," Boerner Horvath said. "So I think accessory dwelling units or granny flats are a great solution. But I think we have to look at how do we increase supply with what’s compatible for our communities."
The gas tax repeal campaign is another important topic in the district. Proposition 6 seeks to overturn recent legislation that is raising billions of dollars for transportation and road improvements throughout the state. Warren, who identifies as a progressive Democrat, is in favor of Proposition 6.
"We’re hurting our small businesses, we’re hurting our working people, we’re hurting our middle-class folks and we’re hurting a lot of folks that are at the very bottom of the income rung," Warren said. "For example people who are working here in the coastal cities but living inland."
Meantime when it comes to the gas tax, Boerner Horvath is not picking a side saying voters “have a tough decision to make in November.”
"I mean, it’s really a choice of an unpopular measure," Boerner Horvath said. "I think what’s important is that during the primary there was a lock box put on transportation funding so that money can never be rediverted, and I think that makes it hopefully a less difficult choice for folks. But we just have to at some point know that we’re going to have to pay for that road infrastructure, and it’s very expensive."
Another debate in North County is over gun shows on state-owned property. The Del Mar Fairgrounds board made a controversial move recently to hold off on scheduling gun shows there. Boerner Horvath said she supports state Assemblyman Todd Gloria in calling for guns to be banned on the fairgrounds.
Warren said she supports gun shows on state property — but, "I think controlled and with regulations."
When it comes to fundraising, Boerner Horvath, as of 4 p.m. on Oct. 25, has raised more than $544,000. She has received support from major companies such as Anheuser Busch, drug-maker Pfizer, PG&E, T Mobile and some political action committees.
"We’re spending all of our money on voter contact — that’s what we’re doing," Boerner Horvath. "This race is about making sure people understand the potential for having an elected leader who really understands our district. Who’s from here, whose family is from here."
Warren has raised significantly less, as of 4 p.m. on Oct. 25, at a little over $90,000. She said she refuses to take corporate money. Warren has received donations from the MoveOn.org, Single Pay and Fund Her PACs, but most contributions are from individuals.
"We have a stronger coalition because I think ultimately people power wins," Warren said. "Money only has the impact that we allow it to have in terms of influencing votes."
Boerner Horvath has a lot of endorsements. In addition to a number of organizations, she has been endorsed by nearly half of the current state assembly and by a handful of state senators.
Warren has picked up endorsements from a number of local government officials including an Encinitas city councilman and two school board members.
If elected, both candidates say health care will be a priority.
"We need to make sure that we’re increasing medical funding so that we are having dialysis centers that take medical within our district," Boerner Horvath said. "For years I have been fighting for Medicare for all because if people aren’t healthy nothing else matters."
Even though the 76th Assembly seat is turning blue this November, Democrats know this race is also about 2020. That’s when the current Assemblyman, Republican Rocky Chávez, could run again. He has held the seat since 2012. Chávez said he did not think a Democrat could win in the 76th and feels both candidates need to campaign more toward Republicans.
"I haven’t seen them market to them at all," Chávez said. "I’m a Republican, I haven’t got anything from them ... I’ve had more people say 'I don’t know who’s running.'"
Both Warren and Boerner Horvath said they have been reaching out to Republican voters. They hope voters will pick candidates based on the issues, not a political party. Chávez said he will vote for someone in November but is not saying who. One thing is for sure, a Democrat will represent this district next year.
After incumbent Republican Rocky Chávez decided not to run, Democrats Tasha Boerner Horvath and Elizabeth Warren will face off Nov. 6 to flip the 76th State Assembly District blue.
This story has been updated to reflect where Warren grew up.
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