Blakespear widens lead over Gunderson in coastal North County state Senate race

Catherine Blakespear and Matt Gunderson
(Courtesy photos)

The Democratic Encinitas mayor’s lead widened again Wednesday, while Republicans continue to lead in two of three other state Senate races.


Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear widened her lead Wednesday over small-business owner Matt Gunderson as more ballots were counted in the competitive race for state Senate District 38.

Early election results last Tuesday had shown Blakespear, a Democrat, leading by a larger margin in the coastal North County and southern Orange County district. That margin narrowed to less than one percentage point by last Wednesday but since then has since grown to more than four points.

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The two candidates were close in polls leading up to Election Day. The district encompasses part of southern Orange County and the San Diego County communities of Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas and Vista, south to Carmel Valley, La Jolla, Pacific Beach and Mission Beach.

In the June primary election, Gunderson led Blakespear by about three percentage points, according to state data.

On the campaign trail, Blakespear emphasized her record as mayor and her efforts to support the environment, such as adopting a building ordinance in Encinitas that limits use of natural gas in new construction. She also emphasized her work to get new bike lanes, subsidized housing and an alternative to San Diego Gas & Electric, known as San Diego Community Power.

Gunderson spent his time calling for building more dams to address drought, freezing fuel prices to protect drivers and harsher punishments for gun crimes. He also voiced his opposition to more restrictive gun-control laws and the way Gov. Gavin Newsom handled the pandemic.

In the 40th District, which includes Escondido, Poway, Santee, Descanso, Lakeside, Ramona and the Mira Mesa and Rancho Bernardo neighborhoods of San Diego, Sen. Brian Jones kept his lead Wednesday over Democrat Joseph Rocha, an attorney and veteran of the Navy and Marines.

The newly-drawn district was considered potentially competitive prior to the election. Jones, one of the most conservative members of the state Senate, was leading by more than five percentage points Wednesday — a narrower margin than he had held Monday — as more ballots are counted.

Voters in the district lean Republican, but there are Democratic pockets of voters in Escondido and San Diego, according to voting data. Still, Jones finished ahead of Rocha by 9 percentage points in the primary.

In District 18 — covering parts of San Diego, National City and Imperial Beach, as well as parts of Imperial, San Bernardino and Riverside counties — Chula Vista City Council member and California Coastal Commission member Steve Padilla, a Democrat, had a sizable lead over Republican Alejandro Galicia, a Navy veteran.

Padilla won the June primary against Galicia with 61 percent of the vote and was expected to win the general election.

In the contest to represent state Senate District 32, Republican state Assemblymember Kelly Seyarto continues to hold a commanding lead over his Democratic opponent, Brian Nash, an analytics consultant. The district covers central San Diego County and parts of Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Seyarto easily won the June primary election against Nash.