Seeking to avoid a contentious primary, some national Democrats have been working behind the scenes to force Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider out of a competitive open-seat House contest in California's 24th District.
But Schneider has no plans to bow out of the race, and on Wednesday released a poll showing a slight lead in a primary against the candidate national Democrats prefer: Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal.
In an all-party primary, Republican state Assemblyman Katcho Achadijan would take the first-place spot with 24 percent, followed by Schneider with 16 percent, Carbajal with 11 percent and GOP businessman Justin Fareed with 10 percent, according to a poll paid for by Schneider's campaign and conducted by top Democratic pollster Celinda Lake.
In California, all candidates run on the same ballot, with the top two finishers — regardless of party affiliation — advancing to the general election.
The poll finds after voters hear "positive profiles of the candidates," Achadijian stays in the first-place spot with 24 percent, followed by Schneider with 23 percent, Carbajal with 15 percent and Fareed with 14 percent.
“This poll shows that if the campaign has the resources to communicate this message to voters throughout the 24th district — Helene will win," Lake said in a statement to CQ Roll Call.
The poll surveyed 350 likely primary voters from July 26 through July 28, and has a margin of error of 5.3 percent.
The 24th District is open this cycle thanks to Democratic Rep. Lois Capps' retirement. President Barack Obama carried the district by an 11-point margin in 2012, making it a Democratic-leaning seat in presidential years.
But in midterm election cycles, voter drop-off makes this a more competitive seat. And national Democrats view Carbajal as the candidate who could hold the district in a tougher year. Capps also endorsed Carbajal as her successor.
Carbajal is ahead in the money race. He brought in $629,000 in the second quarter, and reported $568,000 in cash on hand. Schneider was far behind, raising $225,000 and reporting $200,000 in the bank.
California's 24th District is rated a Safe Democratic contest by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call.
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