Paul Coyne, a Santa Maria resident, has filed with the FEC to run for Congress next year in the 24th District. Coyne, whose statement of candidacy was filed January 14, has worked as a branch manager at Bank of America and Union Bank and was an account executive at Indymac Bank. He has a campaign Facebook and Twitter page, and already has a website up and running.

The self-described fiscally conservative Democrat said the timing of the race was right for him to enter. He said that 15 years of Representative Lois Capps is enough, and he thinks that “we’re on the wrong path.” Top on the list of Coyne’s platform is balancing the budget and reducing the country’s debt, he said. He’d also like to see term limits, pledging to only serve four terms if elected. He noted Capps pledged to only serve a few terms but has been in office since 1998.

He is pro-life (“I support life from inception, and I’m opposed to the death penalty”) and thinks marriage should be between a man and a woman, though he said he does support civil unions, domestic partnerships, and equality under the law.

Coyne, who was raised Roman Catholic, attended West Point, received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army Reserve, and earned his BA in political science from UCSB and his MA in political science from San Diego State University, according to his website. He is a 40-year resident of the Central Coast, and has three children.

The 24th Congressional District encompasses all of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, along with a small bit of Ventura County.

While Coyne is the first to file with the FEC, many political observers believe Capps will run for reelection, and many believe that former lieutenant governor Abel Maldonado, a Republican from Santa Maria, will sign up to challenge Capps once again. Despite Maldonado’s best efforts in 2012, Capps beat him decisively by 10.2 percent of the vote and took the majority in all three counties. But midterm elections tend to be kinder to Republican candidates, and the district has a pretty even split of Dems and Republicans with more than 20 percent of the district registered as no party preference.

Despite the potential of having to square off against two political bigwigs, Coyne said he is ready. “I welcome the challenge,” he said. “I feel there is a silent majority of people that are more centrist, more moderate, and don’t favor the far left or far right.” The 49-year-old, who said he already has five staffers on board and is looking for volunteers, said he is finishing up his tenure as bank branch manager and will be devoting his life full-time to running for office. “I’m going on a 24/7 listening tour,” he said.

Capps, who just began her new term, said in a statement she was focusing on representing her constituents’ interests, not on the next election. “Our country faces a number of challenges, from creating jobs to reducing the deficit to fixing our broken immigration system, and we’ll only be able to address these challenges by putting aside politics and working together,” she said.


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