In years past, President Barack Obama has been loath to involve himself in down-ticket races, but this year — as Obama is preparing his departure from the White House and with the Republican Party in a Trump-instigated free fall — the president has endorsed Democratic Congressional candidate Salud Carbajal, who is now running for California’s 24th District against Republican Justin Fareed. In addition, Obama has reportedly endorsed another 59 congressional candidates in this year’s election, not to mention about 90 Democrats running for statehouse offices in about 20 states.
Carbajal has served on a presidential task force on climate change and has briefly met Obama on several occasions. The 24th District race — California’s only open congressional seat — has been deemed to be nominally competitive by the four major publications that specialize in handicapping national races, though Carbajal — as a Democrat — is given an edge. That’s in part because the seat’s been held for nine terms by Democratic Congressmember Lois Capps and because, district-wide, Democrats enjoy nearly a 9 percent advantage in voter registration. (That spread is substantially greater now than earlier this year when the handicappers weighed in.)
“I am incredibly honored to have Barack Obama’s support in this election,” stated Carbajal via a campaign press release. Also via press release, Obama stated of Carbajal, “Salud is a fighter for the Central Coast working families and will fight for a level playing field so that everyone has a shot at the American Dream.”
The Fareed campaign has castigated Carbajal throughout his campaign an exemplar of status quo, inside-the-beltway, Democratic machine politics. The endorsement by Obama, who now enjoys approval ratings of 57 percent, dovetails into this narrative. “Clearly, the insider machine is out in full force,” declared Fareed spokesperson Christiana Purves. “Nancy Pelosi and the national Democrats stated that it’s their priority to keep control of this seat, and they’ll stop at nothing. President Obama’s endorsement further proves that Carbajal is bought and paid for by insiders in Washington.”
While the Obama administration and Lois Capps have enjoyed close and cordial relations in the past — Capps’s son-in-law worked for Obama’s a media spokesperson — the president never endorsed in any of Capps’s congressional campaigns.
The race for the 24th has drawn big buck donations and is among the most expensive congressional campaigns throughout California. To date the Carbajal camp has raised about $2.8 million and Fareed $2 million.