In his weekly briefing with reporters today, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg for the first time acknowledged concern about his party's prospects in the 19th Senate District, which covers western Ventura County and all of Santa Barbara County.
Responding to questions about an upcoming fundraiser, Steinberg said that his caucus is "highly motivated" to win enough seats in November to attain a two-thirds majority in the Senate -- to "get to 27 and beyond," is how he phrased it.
And where will the campaign money be needed? There are the three swing districts (including the 27th in eastern Ventura County) and "potentially four, potentially five." No. 4 on the list, he said, is the 39th District in San Diego, where Democrats hold a 7.3 percent voter registration advantage. And the fifth district of concern? "Depending on what occurs, you've got the Santa Barbara race, the 19th," Steinberg said.
(As an aside, someone needs to educate the political players in Sacramento that the 19th is hardly the "Santa Barbara race"; a majority of district voters are in Ventura County.)
It was a surprising statement about a district in which Democrats hold more than a 12 percentage-point advantage in voter registration, and a district that President Barack Obama carried by 22 points four years ago.
Steinberg did not elaborate on what he meant by "depending on what occurs," but it appeared to be a reference to polling done by Oxnard Harbor Commissioner Jason Hodge a month ago. Its findings suggested that if Hodge's Democratic opponent, former Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson, ends up in a head-to-head race in November against former Santa Barbara County Supervisor Mike Stoker, the race could be competitive.