Lines in the sand are being drawn for the 19th District State Senate race, with a few big endorsements announced over the weekend. The largest came from a gathering of Democratic Party delegates and members of the Santa Barbara and Ventura County central committees. They endorsed Hannah-Beth Jackson — who served two terms in the State Assembly and narrowly lost a State Senate race to Tony Strickland in 2008 — with an overwhelming 78 percent of the vote. That regional endorsement is generally a precursor to the state Democratic Party’s endorsement next month. Days earlier, Jackson received the endorsement of 1st District County Supervisor Salud Carbajal, a popular politician with deep pockets and statewide connections. “It was a very positive statement about the support I have,” she said.
Jason Hodge, meanwhile, garnered the endorsement of Assembly Speaker John Perez and continues to receive endorsements from many employee unions. Former Assemblymember Pedro Nava has also spoken out positively about Hodge.
While campaign finance reports aren’t out until the end of the month, they should be indicative of the candidates’ strength. Some insiders have speculated that Hodge will have to outspend Jackson two- or three-to-one to beat her. Hodge is waging an uphill battle against Jackson, who has the name recognition from just running in a similar-looking district (though it has changed because of redistricting). He comes into the race largely unknown as a Ventura County firefighter and serves on the Port Hueneme Harbor Commission. He also is recently married to popular Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, who represents a San Francisco district.
The district is a plus-12–percent Democratic district, meaning the Dem emerging from the primary is in a strong position to be successful. The winner will likely be headed to a runoff against Republican Mike Stoker, who has not officially entered the race and has been quiet thus far, but has said he is pretty sure he will jump into the fray.