ENCINITAS — Unofficial primary election results for North County races largely show incumbents holding comfortable leads over their challengers.
In the 49th Congressional District, incumbent Rep. Mike Levin (D-San Juan Capistrano) won handily over his Republican challengers, receiving 49.9% of the vote at the time of this article. Republican Brian Maryott came in second and at the front of the GOP pack with 18.5% of the vote, setting up his third consecutive head-to-head contest with Levin in November.
Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett placed third in the initial results at 10.5%, while Oceanside City Councilman Christopher Rodriguez (9.5%), Josiah O’Neil (7.4%), Nadia Smalley (2.6%), and Renee Taylor (1.4%) all trailed the frontrunners.
Levin issued the following statement after the results were announced.
“I am so grateful that the voters of San Diego and Orange counties in the beautiful 49th District have overwhelmingly selected me to advance to the general election for Congress,” Levin said. “Serving in Congress, working together with all of the residents of this district to improve our quality of life, has been a profound honor. We have shown how much we can accomplish when we put aside partisan divides, really listen to one another, and work together to solve common problems.”
Maryott issued a statement late Thursday regarding the coming election against Levin.
“It is very clear that voters want an alternative to Mike Levin and his tax, spend and inflationary policies, and they view me as the strongest candidate to take him on in November,” Maryott said. “We are hitting the ground running for the general election and look forward to victory.”
A consultant with Bartlett’s campaign told The Coast News that she plans on conceding the race to Maryott given Tuesday’s results.
“I ran for Congress because our country is headed in the wrong direction, and I believe I am the most viable candidate to defeat Mike Levin, win back the district, and help shift the balance of power in Washington,” Bartlett said. “While I still believe this is true today, our campaign faced the uphill battle of a late entry into the race due to redistricting and limited time to fundraise and reach out to voters.
“Despite these challenges, I am proud of the campaign we mounted and the issues we fought for, and am grateful for the support I received. Regardless of what I do next, I will continue to look for ways to improve our community, strengthen the economy, and protect and preserve quality of life, just as I have done for my entire career. I wish Brian Maryott the best of luck, but if he is unable to pull this off for a third consecutive time, I will give serious consideration to another run.”
In the 38th State Senate race, Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear, retired Orange County firefighter Joe Kerr, and Republican newcomer Matt Gunderson are all vying to replace termed-out incumbent Pat Bates who has presided over the district since 2014.
The early results are favorable for both Blakespear and Gunderson — Gunderson leads the way with 45.3% of the vote and Blakespear came in a close second at 43.9%. Kerr came in a distant third with 10.8% of the vote at the time of this story.
In comments made to The Coast News, Kerr did not yet concede the race as he said that he’s waiting for updated results that are supposed to come out of San Diego County on Thursday. However, he acknowledged that a path to victory at this point was likely improbable from his campaign’s standpoint.
“We were hoping for a much better result. I came into this race late, I was the underdog, and I switched my consulting team just twenty-one days out from the election, so we had to prepare for a whole different race,” Kerr said. “At this point, that gap does look too big for the remaining ballots to overcome, so I want to be pragmatic, and I don’t want to let the voters down.
“You start the race because you believe you have something to offer the citizens of this district, and I’ve run this campaign for the citizens and for my supporters all day, every day. It is difficult though to go up against the party-endorsed candidate [Blakespear] — it’s quite the headwind.”
Kerr thanked his supporters and said it’s too soon for him to speculate as to what his political future holds or whether he’ll endorse either Gunderson or Blakespear for the general election.
“It does warm my heart that we had such great support,” Kerr said. “The city of Encinitas, in particular, was amazing, the people of Orange County were amazing, and the citizens of North County San Diego were very supportive. I’m very humbled, although I wish we had gone on past the primary.”
“A race like this is a marathon with 4-minute miles, so I have to take some time to get clear-eyed about the next steps. I’ll cool my jets, take it easy and see where we go from here.”
Blakespear acknowledged Kerr’s candidacy in comments issued Wednesday.
“In this political environment, it takes courage to run for office,” Blakespear said. “I want to acknowledge Joe Kerr for running a spirited campaign and bringing fresh ideas to the race. His candidacy brought into focus several important issues facing California, including wildfire prevention and drought management. I know he’ll continue to be an asset to our state.”
Blaksepear touted Tuesday’s results as evidence of her strong backing in the district and expressed that she was optimistic about her chances of defeating Gunderson in November.
“I’m honored by the tremendous support for our campaign,” Blakespear said. “Tonight, voters sent a clear, unmistakable message that they want someone who will fight for our environment, women’s right to choose and gun violence prevention. I’m humbled by tonight’s victory and excited for the road ahead in the general election.”
In comments made to The Coast News, Gunderson also claimed victory from Tuesday’s tally and took aim at Blakspear’s record in elected office.
“More votes are still being counted, and we expect our lead to grow through the rest of the week,” Gunderson said. “I think you see a very clear message both statewide and here in the 38th that people are sick of the high cost of living, dramatic rise in crime, and our epidemic of homelessness.
“Catherine Blakespear represents the worst aspects of poorly run California government. Her allegiance to SANDAG and Sacramento special interests has cost our community dearly. Under her ‘leadership,’ homelessness rose 74% in Encinitas over the past year alone. What is even more disturbing than her failures is her unwillingness to be held accountable and answer any questions related to SANDAG’s recent scandals misusing tax dollars or her failed approach to solving homelessness.
“People can see the effects of her broken policies every day in our neighborhoods, and the voters have spoken loud and clear that now is the time for results, not empty promises and fancy words. When I succeed in November, I promise accountability, transparency, a return to local control of land use, and to fight for the local programs, like Solutions for Change, that have a proven track record of solving our homeless problem.”
In Assembly District 77, incumbent Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath (D-Encinitas) led Republican opponent Dan Downey handily as expected, carrying 60.9% of the vote as of the time of this story.
“I’m deeply honored to represent my neighbors and our communities in the State Assembly, and grateful for the vote of confidence last night,” Boerner Horvath said in a statement. “Thank you to the voters for making your voices heard and to all of the supporters and volunteers who made this election possible. Elections matter and everyone who votes makes a difference.”
Downey, who garnered 39.1% of the votes in the first tally, also issued a statement, expressing optimism about his chances for the general election while criticizing Boerner Horvath’s policy record.
“We are at about 40% right now, but I think you will see that total rise because many voters waited until Election Day to vote,” Downey said. “If we tick up a few points as expected, we should start with about the same percentage of the vote as where Tasha Boerner Horvath’s previous opponent finished — and that was after spending about $200,000. So to start here without spending a dime, I think it really shows the shift in the electorate away from the out-of-touch politicians that have gotten us into this mess.
“With another four months of gas price increases and baby formula shortages, I am confident voters will be ready to replace Tasha Boerner Horvath (D) with someone who is not such a radical-left ideologue. Even Gov. Gavin Newsom, the L.A. Times and George Skelton think my opponent is too radical. When you are so radical-left that the L.A. Times and George Skelton think you are ‘nutty’ — you are nutty. I think the primary election results show that the people of San Diego are starting to come to the same conclusion.”
Boerner Horvath’s campaign responded by lambasting Downey for his “childish” remarks and expressing confidence that the Democratic incumbent would prevail come November.
“If all Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath’s opponent brings to the table are childish insults and lies about her record, then it’s no surprise he finished more than 20 points behind her in the latest election results,” said Derek Humphrey a spokesperson for Boerner Horvath’s campaign.
“The fact is that the San Diego Union Tribune and Governor Newsom have both endorsed her candidacy, and the Los Angeles Times has never taken a position in her race. Tasha Boerner Horvath has worked tirelessly during her time in the Assembly on behalf of the people she represents and all Californians. What we saw on Tuesday is that a strong majority of voters in her district like the job she is doing.”