Typically regarded a shoo-in, 10-term Republican Congressman Elton Gallegly — whose district includes much of inland Santa Barbara County — announced last Friday he would not seek re-election in June, citing serious but unspecified health problems. Because the legal deadline to file had expired, Gallegly’s decision spurred a desperate though futile scramble among replacement Republicans hoping to jump into the race. As it stands, Gallegly’s name will remain on the ballot. The only other Republican in the running is 37-year-old attorney Michael Tenenbaum, a recent party activist who has questioned Gallegly’s credentials as a fiscal conservative — leaving a few within the party nonplussed. Mike Stoker, a former Santa Barbara county supervisor now working for California State Senator Tom McClintock, indicated he would run as a write-in candidate unless an unlikely filing extension was granted.
The post-Gallegly era wasted no time getting nasty. Early in the week, Tenenbaum’s camp denied authoring an inflammatory press release circulated under his name, calling the memo — which referred to “neo-Nazi feminists” and made personally insulting attacks on the Democratic candidates — a fraud designed to undermine Tenenbaum’s campaign. Meanwhile, turmoil raged among Democrats in the staunchly Republican district; on Monday, Mary Pallant of Ventura County announced her withdrawal from the race, claiming her opponent Jill Martinez, an ordained minister and affordable-housing advocate, was spreading false rumors about Pallant, her relatives, and her campaign director. Martinez denied any knowledge of Pallant’s claims, pledging to fire anyone in her campaign who was associated with the rumor. Last week, Brett Wagner announced his withdrawal from the field so he could initiate a recall campaign against 3rd District Supervisor Brooks Firestone.