Verifying well-established rumors, Gregg Hart filed candidate intention papers on January 26 to run for 2nd District County Supervisor. While he has not formally announced his campaign, the filings appear to rebuff any last-minute murmurs that the recently reelected Santa Barbara City Councilmember might not jump in the race to represent the 2nd District.
In the June 5 election, Hart would face off against Susan Epstein, a Goleta school boardmember who formally launched her campaign in early January. Epstein has not wasted any time asking high-ranking Santa Barbara Democrats for their support. Her list of endorsements includes outgoing 2nd District Supervisor Janet Wolf, former 2nd District supervisor Susan Rose, and State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, as well as a number of area school boardmembers. Epstein sent out a mass email on Tuesday, inviting recipients to her first $85-per-person fundraiser on February 11, held at the home of Jill and Ron Dexter.
The race, observers note, would pit against each other two Democrats who have long existed in separate spheres — Epstein largely in Goleta and Hart largely in the City of Santa Barbara. Now, they would be competing for the same donors.
A key endorsement will be the Democratic Party’s. The Democratic Central Committee will be interviewing both Hart and Epstein “with the potential of making an endorsement” on Thursday night at Pea Soup Andersen’s in Buellton, according to committee chair Gail Teton-Landis. Many rank-and-file Democrats are expected to attend. Teton-Landis said observers would be asked to leave during the committee’s deliberations. Both candidates have already answered a written questionnaire.
A candidate needs at least 60 percent of the committee to clinch the endorsement. Observers say they expect the vote to be close.
Democrats have a 23 percent advantage in registered voters over Republicans in the 2nd District; 24 percent are decline to state. A Republican has not entered the race, and GOP insiders say many in the party might coalesce around the more moderate Democrat. The filing deadline is March 14. Should only two candidates enter the race, June’s outcome would be final.