1st District County Supervisor Salud Carbajal
Paul Wellman (file)

Anyone thinking of taking on 1st District County Supervisor Salud Carbajal when he is up for reelection next year better tread carefully.

Once again, Carbajal has shown an ability to not just fundraise, but fundraise big.

He brought in $126,000 over the past six months, and currently has $280,402 in his campaign coffers as he heads toward a race for his third term as supervisor. The primary election for his seat is set for June 5, 2012.

While the rumor mill about a possible opponent for Carbajal has been quiet, and no one has filed a candidate intention statement to run, Carbajal isn’t counting on anything. “Politics in Santa Barbara is a contact sport,” said Carbajal, noting some supervisorial races have had to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars. Carbajal didn’t have any opposition when he ran in 2008.

His list of contributors for the most recent fundraising period — from January 1 through June 30 — is an impressive collection of names and numbers. Topping the list is cellular phone pioneer Craig McCaw, ex-husband of News-Press owner Wendy McCaw, who gave $15,000. Miramar Hotel owner Rick Caruso gave $15,000 as well.

Perhaps most interesting, however, is a $10,000 contribution from Randall Van Wolfswinkel, the mysterious Texas billionaire developer who injected hundreds of thousands of dollars into the 2009 City Council election race. At the time, Van Wolfswinkel was reportedly in negotiations to purchase the historic Arco property — located near the Biltmore Hotel — from Ty Warner.

Carbajal, who has met Van Wolfswinkel at a number of social events, said last week he remembers having conversations with Van Wolfswinkel about his interest in some property around that time, though he didn’t remember what property and hasn’t heard of anything happening more recently.

Going further down the list, Gene Montesano, who owns a number of restaurants in the area — including Lucky’s, Cafe Luck, and Joe’s — gave $5,000, while Herb Simon, owner of the NBA’s Indianapolis Pacers, gave $1,000. The list also includes longtime Carbajal supporters including Alice Willfong ($10,000), Suzie and Bruce Kovner ($6,000), Dan Emmett ($10,000), and Betty Stephens ($5,000).

“I’m very fortunate and very grateful to have the broad support that I’ve had over the years,” said Carbajal, whose district includes Carpinteria, Summerland, Montecito, and portions of Santa Barbara, and now will extend into Cuyama. “I hope it’s a reflection of the good service I provide.”

Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr is also up for reelection next year, but her bank account is significantly more depleted, thanks to her ongoing litigation battle with Steve Pappas, who ran against Farr and lost in 2008. Farr had to pay $183,637 to attorneys over the past six months. Her case is back in court this week.

Farr raised $13,955 over the past six months and has $27,111 in cash on-hand. She has a long way to go, however, since the fight for the always pivotal 3rd District seat is sure to be competitive.


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