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Breaking: Hart Bags Key Dem Endorsement

Gail Teton-Landis just confirmed that Gregg Hart won the Santa Barbara County Democratic Party’s endorsement over Susan Epstein in the race for supervisor in the 2nd District.

“Gregg reached the 60 percent threshold,” the S.B. party chair texted around 10 p.m. Thursday, from Pea Soup Andersen's in Buellton, where the county committee held its endorsement meeting on Thursday night, for reasons that remain unclear to us.

The endorsement is a key tactical victory for Hart, in advance of a formal public declaration of candidacy by the veteran city council member, now expected next week.

Hart manager Mollie Culver declined to put Smilin' Gregg on the damn phone after he received word of the endorsement. - "We'll talk next week," she said.

The party's decision came when at least 60 percent of an as-yet unknown number of the 31 members of the county committee voted Hart's way in a closed door meeting at the popular eating establishment, which claims to serve more than 2 million bowls of soup a year (!) and was founded in 1924 by Danish-born restaurateur Anton Andersen and his French immigrant wife, Juliette. Plenty of free parking.

We’re efforting more details on how the endorsement deal went down.

As a practical matter, the party’s official seal of approval on Hart’s campaign materials is important as a signifier to Democratic voters throughout the district, which includes “western Santa Barbara, the eastern Goleta Valley as well as neighborhoods from the top of San Marcos Pass to the beautiful More Mesa and Goleta Beach,” as described by Supervisor Janet Wolf, the retiring incumbent, on her website.

Nearly 44 percent of the district's 51,272 registered voters are Democrats, according to the California Secretary of State's 2017 report, while 28 percent are Republican and 24 percent are No Party Preference independents.

The Democratic endorsement also means Hart can count on volunteers, ground troops and other resources of the party in the June 5 election..

Both Hart and Epstein, a longtime member of the Goleta school board, have long and active records in local progressive Democratic politics, and it was unclear going into last night’s meeting who would prevail.

We’ll update tomorrow.

Images: Gregg Hart; a can of Pea Soup Andersen's pea soup; Susan Epstein.

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