Mike Levin alone at the March 2 forum hosted by Flip the 49th, a super PAC. Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle.

Republican Assemblyman Rocky Chavez’s decision to run for the 49th Congressional District has left an opening for both parties in the 76th Assembly District. For the first time in several cycles, locals have a competitive state election on their hands.

Since 2012, the Democrats have held off running a candidate in the 76th District, where Republicans once held a strong advantage in voter registration. Businessman Thomas Krouse has twice challenged Chavez in the general election. This time around, 11 candidates have filed for the June 2018 primary, including four Democrats and seven Republicans.

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On the left, there’s freshman Encinitas Councilwoman Tasha Boerner–Horvath, Michelle Gomez, James Medford and former public relations person Elizabeth Warren.

Chavez still maintains an active Assembly committee account, which brought in $214,000 last year and spent about $119,000. That was before Rep. Darrell Issa announced his decision to retire, opening the gates to GOP congressional candidates, Chavez included.

On the right, there’s San Dieguito Union High School Board Vice-President Mo Muir, Vista Councilwoman Amanda Rigby, former Encinitas Mayor Jerome Stocks, Phil Graham, Thomas Krouse and Brian Wimmer.

Graham had been planning to run for 2020, raising nearly $90,500 in the process, but he changed course. Only four other candidates reported fundraising last year: Boerner-Horvath with $55,000, Warren with $32,300, Gomez with $18,300 and Medford with $2,400.

Like the Democrats in the 49th District race, Republicans in the 76th District may end up splintering the vote, allowing two liberals through the primary. As the Union-Tribune reported last weekend, what was once a Republican stronghold has shifted left, giving the Democrats an almost equal number of registered voters and the first serious shot at picking up the seat in a while. The district is becoming older and whiter, but also less Republican.

Kerfuffle in the 49th

Last Friday, the Democratic activist group-turned-super PAC Flip the 49th! held a forum meant to winnow the field of contenders to replace Rep. Darrell Issa in Congress. That kind of worked, but in its wake, Democrats are more divided than ever.

At the last minute, three of the candidates dropped out of the forum: Doug Applegate, Sara Jacobs and Paul Kerr. Applegate provided no explanation while the others cited legal and ethical concerns about attending an event held by a political action committee, a type of organization with which candidates are prohibited from coordinating.

That left Christina Prejean, who immediately announced that she was withdrawing from the race, and Mike Levin to take the stage for the night.

As Mother Jones first reported, Levin was the only one who made his pitch for why he deserves Democrats’ support. The question was meant for every candidate, but in their absence, the organizers had to ask it of empty chairs.

Del Mar Approves Enhancements for Downtown

The Coast News reported last week that Del Mar finally approved its long awaited plans to transform Camino Del Mar, or Highway 101.

The changes will happen in phases over about six blocks of Del Mar’s downtown, bringing bike and pedestrian amenities — and a lot of trees — to the area, which is expected to cost $5.6 million. The Coast News writes that a plan was first put in place in 1996, but the specifics and environmental reviews only kicked off last year.

A report for the City Council on the changes said the main goal was to promote biking and walking, provide disabled access and reduce the area’s dependency on people in cars.

Other North County cities are either considering or implementing similar “complete street” changes, and both opponents and supporters of bike lanes have used Del Mar as a local point of comparison.

Oceanside Slow-Growth Group Is Slow to Disclose

The organizers of an initiative to limit growth in Oceanside’s agricultural and open areas are facing complaints about their lack of transparency with election authorities.

The Union-Tribune reports that the Fair Political Practices Commission is reviewing a complaint alleging Save Open Space and Agricultural Resources, or SOAR, has violated state and local laws by not filing required financial disclosures.

Though the group has been collecting signatures to get their initiative on the ballot, and is expected to submit them to the city this week, City Clerk Zack Beck told the U-T that SOAR has filed none of the required disclosure forms with the city.

“Since we will turn in our signatures March 13, we will submit the appropriate disclosure forms after notification we are on the ballot and can begin our campaign,” SOAR organizer Dennis Martinek said. “SOAR is a low-budget, grassroots organization, and we will fully disclose our financials as required.”

Also in the News

Solana Beach may be switching to by-district elections. (The Coast News)

An Oceanside man’s story of reconnecting with the person who helped him avoid electroshock therapy for being gay is the subject of the PBS show, “We’ll Meet Again.” (KPBS)

The horse-rescue operation in Valley Center accused of fraud and animal abuse is temporarily barred from raising and spending funds. (KPBS)

The state’s Republican Party is officially behind Rep. Duncan Hunter for his reelection campaign. (Union-Tribune)

Plans for a resort and 200 homes have been submitted to Escondido, which would require the city to annex about 1,800 acres of unincorporated land. (Union-Tribune)

Update: an earlier version of the post reported that SOAR is under investigation, but the FPPC is still reviewing a complaint to see if it has merit.

Ruarri Serpa is a freelance writer in Oceanside. Email him at ruarris@gmail.com and find him on Twitter at @RuarriS.

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