2012-02-24 / Front Page

Brownley jumps into crowded race for Congress

Bennett gives assemblymember his support
By Darleen Principe

(Source: California Citizens Redistricting Commission) (Source: California Citizens Redistricting Commission) Three-term state Assemblymember Julia Brownley announced Monday that she is joining the race for the newly drawn 26th Congressional District.

Brownley ( D- Oak Park), whose 41st Assembly District includes Oxnard, Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Westlake Village and much of the San Fernando Valley bordering Ventura County, will join three other Democrats already vying for the seat.

“ I’m thrilled to announce my candidacy for Congress in a district I’ve represented for over five years,” Brownley said in a statement. “It’s clear that we need to end the partisan gridlock in Washington and start representing the interests of the voters who elected us.”

Brownley’s announcement comes a little over a week after Steve Bennett, who was regarded as the Democratic frontrunner, bowed out of the race in order to keep his seat on the Ventura County Board of Supervisors.

Bennett will leave the congressional race only to face Ventura City Council member Neil Andrews and retiring Ventura County Fire Chief Bob Roper—both Republicans—in the supervisor’s race. Ventura City Council member Christy Weir, an independent, is also running for the District 1 supervisor post.

The recently redrawn 26th Congressional District includes most of Ventura County and has a 6 percent Democratic registration advantage. The primary is June 5.

Because Bennett’s Feb. 11 announcement came just minutes before county delegates were to vote on endorsing a candidate, the Ventura County Democratic Committee was unable to officially back just one candidate.

Instead, the county party will throw equal support behind the remaining candidates—Moorpark City Council member David Pollock, Westlake Village businessman David Cruz Thayne, Oxnard Harbor District Commissioner Jess Herrera, and now, Brownley.

Brownley said her top priorities are education, campaign finance reform, the environment and healthcare reform.

“Ventura County residents want to get back to work,” she said. “They want their children to have the same quality education they had. They want to make sure our coastlines are protected and they want access to affordable healthcare.

“These are the values I’ve fought for on behalf of my constituents and I’d be honored to be able to continue that work in Congress.”

The June 5 election will be an open primary for the U.S. House of Representatives seat, which means the top two votegetters— regardless of political party—will vie for the seat in the November election.

The Ventura County Republican Party has endorsed state Sen. Tony Strickland (R-Simi Valley) in the race.

County Supervisor Linda Parks, a registered Republican, is also running in the 26th District as an undeclared candidate.

Akiva Werbalowsky, a permaculture designer in Ojai, is running as an independent.

Pundits say the race in the mostly balanced district will be closely watched by Washington and the rest of the nation.

U. S. Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Camarillo) led a GOP stronghold in his 24th District for 13 terms. But Gallegly announced in January he would retire and not run for the newly drawn 26th District, as his hometown of Simi Valley now sits in the neighboring 25th district.

Brownley has already received numerous campaign endorsements that include the backing of Ventura Mayor Bill Fulton, Assemblymember Das Williams ( D- Santa Barbara), and Kathi Smith, president of the Ventura County School Boards Association.

Bennett is also backing the new candidate.

“Julia Brownley shares my values on the major issues facing our country, including a strong, public commitment to the critical need to bring the Republican leadership of this ( House of Representatives) to an end,” Bennett said. “Combining those values with her proven fundraising ability and strong organizational support makes her the candidate best positioned to defeat Tony Strickland.”

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