The Under-the-Radar Race to Replace Rocky Chavez - Voice of San Diego

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The Under-the-Radar Race to Replace Rocky Chavez

One race that’s progressing relatively quietly despite a crowded field is the 76th Assembly District, stretching from Encinitas to Camp Pendleton, and east to Vista. Six Republicans and two Democrats are running.  
Republican Assemblyman Rocky Chavez. / Photo by Anthony Cave/News21

Several North County political positions, from the County Board of Supervisors to Congress, have seen incumbents unable to, or uninterested in, run for re-election. These shakeups have led to a slew of new candidates in the region’s races, who are all trying to make it past the June primary.

One race that’s progressing relatively quietly despite a crowded field is the 76th Assembly District, stretching from Encinitas to Camp Pendleton, and east to Vista.

In the 76th, six Republicans and two Democrats are trying to replace Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, who is currently leading the Republicans in his run for the 49th Congressional District.

On the Republican side is Phil Graham, Vista Councilwoman Amanda Rigby, San Dieguito Union High School District Board Member Mo Muir, former Encinitas Councilman Jerome Stocks, businessman Thomas Krouse and Brian Wimmer.

On the Democrat side is Encinitas Councilwoman Tasha Boerner Horvath, and Elizabeth Warren, a journalist and community advocate.

So far, there’s not been any polling conducted in the 76th Assembly District, and absent that, money is the best shorthand of where the parties’ machinery is aligning.

From that perspective, Graham and Boerner Horvath have emerged as the two favored candidates, by a North County mile.

Graham previously ran for the 76th in 2016, but dropped out to campaign for Encinitas City Council when Chavez ended his bid for Senate, This year, Graham has the benefit of the local Republican Party’s endorsement, and so far, he’s brought in the most money of any candidate, reporting about $242,000 in contributions this cycle.

Graham’s largest donors are Gayle Wilson, investor Jack Crivello, Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s congressional campaign and Bill Bloomfield, who each donated over $8,000 to Graham’s campaign. (Disclosure: Graham also received $4,400 from Buzz Woolley, chairman of VOSD’s Board of Directors.)

This is the first year in several election cycles that Democrats have even put up a candidate in the 76th District, but the party has not made an endorsement.

In terms of fundraising, Boerner Horvath is the clearly favored candidate on the left. She has reported about $118,500 this election, compared with Warren’s $39,800.

About $36,500 of Boerner Horvath’s contributions, the largest share of her support, comes from Sacramento, comprised mostly of contributions from construction trade unions – notable, since Boerner Horvath represents Encinitas, one of the few cities across the state that defies mandates to allow more housing to be built.

Issues that have dominated candidate forums so far include housing, water and the Delta tunnels, the state’s so-called sanctuary state law, a recent tax increase to pay for transportation infrastructure and concerns about the bullet train.

This piece originally ran in the May 4 Sacramento Report. 

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