Congressional candidate Andy Caldwell spoke Monday night at the Republican Party headquarters in Atascadero. About 200 Republicans attended their annual holiday meeting which included a potluck dinner.
Caldwell is challenging incumbent Salud Carbajal in the 24th Congressional district. Carbajal succeeded Lois Capps, who served for almost 30 years. Capps succeeded her husband, Walter Capps, who died after serving only nine months of his term in 1997. Lois Capps served in that congressional district from 1998 to 2017.
Caldwell is a radio talk show host in Santa Maria. He grew up in Lompoc and graduated from UC San Diego. After graduation, Caldwell started working as a laborer on an overnight shift, but ultimately became the Industrial Relations Manager for Union Sugar. He started the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business (COLAB) because Santa Barbara County Supervisors were ignoring the issues the company faces. He helped start the San Luis Obispo county COLAB group.
Caldwell says he was a Democrat for half his life, but feels the party has changed. He says, the new Democratic Party embraces socialism. He says in the last primary election, 90% of UCSB students supported Bernie Sanders. Only 10% supported Hillary Clinton’s nomination. Caldwell says, “Socialism doesn’t work.”
Caldwell says he has name recognition, but faces an uphill battle against an incumbent with a large campaign chest. He told Republicans Monday night that he’s relying on a grassroots movement to counter the million dollar advertising campaign from Congressman Salud Carbajal. Caldwell says the March primary creates another challenge, because it will sneak up quickly after the holidays, and voters may be caught by surprise by the early primary election.