Rocky Chavez
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Election season is heating up in coastal North County with incumbent Rocky Chávez (R-Oceanside) not running for re-election in the 76th Assembly District. He was elected to the seat in 2012.

The district runs from Camp Pendleton, south to Cardiff by the Sea, and east to Vista. Nine candidates, many holding a current elected office, are throwing their hat into the ring. As of January 19th, the county Registrar of Voters reports that seven candidates have pulled election papers.

Declaring first, early last April, Elizabeth Warren describes herself as a “true-blue progressive” and wants to work on a lot of justice issues. According to her campaign statement, the Democrat will work for “Climate Justice . . . Infrastructure Justice . . . Paycheck Justice . . . Immigrant and Minority Justice . . . Animal Justice . . . and Criminal Justice.” Warren has not held elective office before.

Former Encinitas mayor Jerome Stocks formally announced his Republican candidacy on January 22nd. The three-term councilperson has already received the endorsements of former congressman Brian Bilbray and Oceanside councilman Jerry Kern, along with several current and former mayors and councilpersons in North County cities. The former mayor was not reelected in his fourth bid for city council in 2014.

In the 2016 76th District election, Thomas Krouse was the only candidate who stayed in the race to run against Chávez. Both were Republicans. Originally a write-in candidate in the June primary, he received 40 percent of the vote in the November general election. He is described as a spending conservative, stating he will hold “our state representatives accountable for every dollar they consider spending of taxpayers’ hard-earned income.”

Phil Graham is the stepson of former governor Pete Wilson. Boosted by old Republican money in the previous 76th District race, and more recently for Encinitas City Council, Graham has yet to serve in public office.

Self-described as a “pragmatic progressive,” Michelle Cassel Gomez has also not held public office but appears to have a lot of grassroots Democratic support with her plan to “Preserving Prosperity Through People Power!”

Michael Hadland is the current chief of staff for Assemblyman Chávez and a former director of the San Diego Young Republicans Club. An internet search showed his campaign has yet to formalize.

Vista’s deputy mayor Amanda Rigby is ready to run but has yet to formalize her campaign as well. The second-term councilwoman was reelected in 2016 and will run as a Republican.

Two others have announced their intention to run: Encinitas councilwoman Tasha Boerner Horvath was elected to the city council in 2016. Her Democratic profile has risen in recent months, receiving the endorsement of assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, assemblyman Todd Gloria, and San Diego city councilmembers Barbara Bry, Chris Ward, and David Alvarez.

San Dieguito High School District trustee Mo Muir is a Republican who seems to end up on the minority side of school-board votes. She favors maintaining a balanced budget and reducing expenditures. Her husband, Mark Muir, is an Encinitas councilman and former city fire chief.

The political website Around the Capitol states the district is clearly “Safe Republican,” one of the few remaining in the state. However, as of the 2017 voter-registration roles, the Democratic and Republican parties share about an equal one-third of the voter registrations in the district.

March 9th is the last day for candidates to turn in their paperwork to the registrar. The top-two finishers in the June 5th statewide primary — no matter which political party they represent — will run off in the November general election.

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