It’s 616 days until the 2012 congressional elections, but incumbent Representative Lois Capps isn’t leaving any doubt about her plans.
“I am going to run for re-election,” the Santa Barbara Democrat told The Independent.
It was the first public comment about her future intentions by Capps, who represents the 23rd Congressional District, since former Republican Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado shook up the local political landscape last week by announcing his intention to seek a Central Coast House seat in two years.
The unusually early maneuvering by Capps, re-elected just four months ago, and by Maldonado, a longtime GOP fixture beaten by Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom last November, reflects a dramatically new political dynamic confronting all candidates for office in California. For the first time, an independent citizen’s commission has taken charge of the every-ten-years task of re-drawing the maps for congressional and legislative districts, based on the 2010 census; simultaneously, the state’s election rules also have substantially changed, after voters approved a ballot initiative last June aimed at lessening the importance of party affiliation in primary races.
Taken together, these political permutations will shape a new, uncertain, and unpredictable political terrain for 2012, a sweeping shift that is motivating candidates to declare their ambitions early and clearly, not only to set down a marker on what they consider their turf, but also to begin the task of building support and raising money faster and further in advance than they might have done under the old rules.