Representatives Salud Carbajal (left) and Don Bacon at Santa Barbara County Fire headquarters last week
Keith Hamm

Representative Salud Carbajal and his Republican counterpart Representative Don Bacon of Nebraska toured California’s 24th Congressional District last week as part of an American Congressional Exchange trip hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center. Among other stops, Bacon’s trip included visits to Cal Poly, UCSB, agricultural operations, Vandenberg Air Force Base, and areas ravaged by the Thomas Fire and 1/9 Debris Flow. At County Fire Department headquarters, Chief Eric Peterson briefed Bacon on the back-to-back natural disasters. “I heard pieces through the news,” Bacon said, “but I had no idea of the scope.”

As part of the center’s mission ​— ​in part to combine “the best ideas from both parties [to drive] principled and politically viable policy solutions,” according to its website ​— ​Carbajal and Bacon have traveled together to Guantanamo Bay and the Middle East. They’ve become friends along the way, which has helped them find common ground on certain issues and cosponsor each other’s legislation, such as Bacon’s bill last year to support Gold Star families. “We’re Republicans and Democrats committed to working in a bipartisan way,” Carbajal said. “You have to get out of your element.”

“Life is all about relationships,” Carbajal said earlier this year. “The more you get to know one another, the more you like each other and the more you’re willing to work with each other and find that common ground.” Added Bacon, “When you build a friendship, even when you disagree, it’s done in a much more civil way.”

In May as part of the exchange, Carbajal toured Bacon’s district, including visits to a Cinco de Mayo festival, an urban agriculture facility, the Union Pacific dispatch center, Offutt Air Force Base, and the University of Nebraska.


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