California Target Book

38th Assembly District

Dante Acosta (R)

TERM LIMIT: 2028

  AD37
AD39  


President '12 U.S. Senate '12 Assembly '12 Assembly '14
Obama (D-Inc)
Romney (R)
46.73%
50.84%
Feinstein (D-Inc)
Emken (R)
48.29%
51.71%
Edward Headington (D)
Scott Wilk (R)
43.12%
56.88%
Jorge Salomon Fuentes (D)
Scott Wilk (R-Inc)
33.66%
66.34%
President '16 U.S. Senate '16 Prop 62 '16 Assembly '16
Clinton (D)
Trump (R)
49.33%
44.11%
Harris (D)
Sanchez (D)
62.51%
37.49%
YES
NO
36.16%
63.84%
Christy Smith (D)
Dante Acosta (R)
47.13%
52.87%


LOCATION: Los Angeles County’s Santa Clarita Valley, Castaic Lake and northwestern portion of the San Fernando Valley (collectively 73% of district voters); Ventura County’s Simi Valley (27%). DISTRICT MAP | DISTRICT PROFILE


ETHNIC POPULATION (2010 Census):  Latino 26%; Asian 12%; Black 3%; White (non-Hispanic) 56%


VOTER REGISTRATION (Oct '16): Dem: 35.09%; Rep: 36.78%; NPP: 22.97% - Total Voters - 282,088
     Permanent vote-by-mail voters 35%
     Ethnic voter registration: Latino 16%; Asian 8%


VOTER REGISTRATION/TURNOUT (LAST 4 CYCLES):

P12: Dem 34.06%; Rep 41.26%; NPP 19.42%; TURNOUT: 26.40%; Total Registered: 243,797
G12: Dem 33.98%; Rep 40.76%; NPP 18.35%; TURNOUT: 72.67%; Total Registered: 255,049
P14: Dem 33.84%; Rep 39.16%; NPP 17.61%; TURNOUT: 19.92%; Total Registered: 265,268
G14: Dem 33.73%; Rep 38.87%; NPP 22.00%; TURNOUT: 38.00%; Total Registered: 265,115


INCUMBENT:
Born: January 3, 1963

Term limit:
2028
Committee memberships 

DANTE ACOSTA, at the time of his election to the Assembly, was serving his first term on the Santa Clarita City Council, having first won election in 2014. He had also served as the District Representative for CD25’s Rep. Steve Knight since 2015. A financial services professional serving the Los Angeles Area, his previous work includes stints as a Recruiting Manager for Amerirprise Financial Services, as Regional VP of Emerging Markets for ING, as Regional Sales Director for Prudential, and as a CP Financial Advisor for Dean Witter and Wells Fargo. He began his career in the auto industry in high school, serving as an assistant manager of an auto parts store. While attending CSU-Northridge he worked as a car salesperson and rose to the position General Sales Manager. He and his wife, Carolyn, have been Santa Clarita residents for over 28 years. Acosta is a Gold Star father, having lost one of his three children in Afghanistan.   


INCUMBENT RATINGS: NRA 86


CAMPAIGN 2018: Incumbent Republican Dante Acosta will be up for re-election in 2018. Democrat Christy Smith, who challenged Acosta in 2016, has announced she will make another attempt in 2018. 

CHRISTY SMITH (D) previously ran for this seat in 2016 (see below). First elected to the Newhall School Board in 2009, she later won re-election in 2013. She began her career as an analyst at the US Department of Education in Washington. Upon returning to California, she was the founding chair of the Valencia Valley Education Foundation and also served as a representative to the William S. Hart District Advisory Board. She has served as the Legislative Vice President of the Santa Clarita Valley Trustees Association, as a delegate to the California School Board Association, and as chair of the Measure E Prop 39 bond campaign for the Newhall District. She holds a bachelor's in Political Science from UCLA. A resident of the Santa Clarita Valley for 24 years, she resides in Santa Clarita with her husband, Phil. They have two children.


CAMPAIGN 2016:  This is a competitive district that leans Republican, with the GOP holding onto a 1.69% voter registration advantage on election day in 2016. The final day of candidate filing, incumbent GOP Asm. Scott Wilk announced that he would not seek re-election and instead run for the open SD21 seat being vacated by Sharon Runner, who made a late decision to retire due to health reasons (Runner would pass away four months later). With Wilk's 11th-hour announcement, the filing period extended until March 16th, and three Republicans joined the lone Democrat who had already declared. With the field to herself and high party turnout for the Presidential Primary, Democrat Christy Smith, an elected member of the Newhall School Board, claimed the top spot, winning 44.66% of the vote. The CA Democratic Party contributed close to $23,000 to boost her campaign, an early signal that this could be a target in November. Of the three Republicans, Santa Clarita City Councilman Dante Acosta easily took the number two spot, winning 36.16% of the vote. Acosta was endorsed by Wilk, Runner, and most of the GOP establishment, and led the field in fundraising, taking in $123,000 and spending $75,000 during the primary. Acosta also received over $100,000 in supportive spending from an IE sponsored by GROW Elect, an organization that backs Latino Republican candidates. Tyler Izen, the former president of the L.A. Police Protective League who raised around $50,000, finished a distant third with 10.98% of the vote, and Jarrod Degonia, a San Fernando field deputy for L.A. Supervisor Mike Antonovich who raised around $63,000, finished last with 8.2% of the vote.

 The CA Democratic Party began spending in this race in early August, eventually pumping $1.4 million into Smith's campaign (making this the #10 ranked race for Democratic committee money). Smith and her allies worked overtime in their efforts to tie Acosta to Donald Trump, and their efforts were bolstered in the final weeks when Acosta was hit with allegations that he had sexually harassed a local GOP consultant. Acosta's campaign was quick to return fire, seizing on a set of mailers sent by the CA Democratic Party on behalf of Smith's campaign that darkened some his older acting headshots, accusing them of peddling "racist and bigoted messages of hate" and casting him as "some Mexican two-bit criminal". State and county Republican party committees boosted Acosta to the tune of $544,000 (ranking it #7 for GOP committee money), and outside groups added another $300,000 largely in opposition to Smith, with most coming from Parents and Teachers for Student Success, an education reform IE backed by heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune, philanthropist Eli Broad, and GOP mega-donor Charles T. Munger, and JOBSPAC, an IE backed by the CA Chamber of Commerce and a number of business groups. Smith received around $210,000 in supportive spending from the CA Teachers Association, CA Labor Federation, and the CA State Council of Service Employees. Once the votes were counted, Acosta eked out a 52.87%/47.13% win over Smith, the 5.74% gap making this the 3rd closest Assembly race in 2016. Final turnout in the primary was 44.72%, while 69.05% of the district's registered voters cast a ballot for this race in November.

2016 Primary Ballot


Dante Acosta (R) Councilmember, City of Santa Clarita
Jarrod DeGonia (R) Supervisor's Deputy
Tyler Izen (R) Reserve Police Officer
Christy Smith (D) School Board Member

TYLER IZEN (R) is a retired 30-year veteran Los Angeles Police Department Detective and past president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the  organization representing the nearly 10,000 members of the LAPD. He joined the department in 1984, working patrol, vice investigations, detective, administrative and supervisory assignments as a police officer, Sergeant, and Detective in Northeast, Southeast, Hollywood, Metropolitan Division, Foothill, Internal Affairs, Office of the Inspector General, and Force Investigation Division.  The former Director of the Los Angeles Police Museum and the Los Angeles Police Federal Credit Union, he resides in Woodland Hills. 

DANTE ACOSTA (R) was elected to the Santa Clarita City Council in 2014 and currently serves as Mayor Pro Tem. The District Representative for CD25 Rep Steve Knight since 2015, he is a financial services professional serving the Los Angeles Area. He previously served as a Recruiting Manager for Amerirprise Financial Services, as a Regional VP of Emerging Markets for ING, as Regional Sales Director for Prudential, and as a CP Financial Advisor for Dean Witter and Wells Fargo. He began his career in the auto industry in high school, serving as an assistant manager of an auto parts store. While attending CSU-Northridge he worked as a car salesperson and rose to the position General Sales Manager. He and his wife, Carolyn, have been Santa Clarita residents for over 28 years. Acosta is a Gold Star father, having lost one of his three children in Afghanistan. Wilk has contributed to Acosta's campaign, as has Sen. Sharon Runner. Campaign Managers: Sharon Bronson, Sam Spencer; Campaign Consultants: Alex Avetoom (Venture Strategic), Fundraising: Capital Development Strategies

JARROD DEGONIA (R) is the San Fernando field deputy for outgoing Los Angeles County District 5 Supervisor Mike Antonovich. He previously served for 5 years from 2006 to 2011 as District Director to former AD38 Asm. Cameron Smyth, and for six years as the Chief of Staff to Ventura 4th District Supervisor Judy Mikels. He currently serves as the chair of the board of the Simi Valley Community Foundation and a a director with the Simi Valley Hospital Foundation. He holds a bachelor's in Political Science from California Lutheran University and resides in Simi Valley with his wife IMaria. They have two young daughters. Political Consultant: Jennifer Knight

ENDORSED BY CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY

CHRISTY SMITH (D) was first elected to the Newhall School Board in 2009, later winning re-election in 2013. She holds a bachelor's in Political Science from UCLA. She began her career as an analyst at the US Department of Education in Washington. Upon returning to California, she was the founding chair of the Valencia Valley Education Foundation and also served as a representative to the William S. Hart District Advisory Board. She has served as the Legislative Vice President of the Santa Clarita Valley Trustees Association, as a delegate to the California School Board Association, and as chair of the Measure E Prop 39 bond campaign for the Newhall District. A resident of the Santa Clarita Valley for 24 years, she resides in Santa Clarita with her husband, Phil. They have two children.

TV Spots: CS Resume



CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORTS: Acosta • DeGonia • Izen • Smith


Independent Expenditure Activity in General (Updated 11-06): TOTAL IE SPENDING $508,342.25


PARENTS AND TEACHERS FOR STUDENT SUCCESS $4,966.00 IN SUPPORT OF DANTE ACOSTA
PARENTS AND TEACHERS FOR STUDENT SUCCESS $151,171.77 IN OPPOSITION TO CHRISTY SMITH

National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund - CA $3,614.68 IN SUPPORT OF Dante Acosta

JOBSPAC, A BI-PARTISAN COALITION OF CALIFORNIA EMPLOYERS $10,119.10 IN SUPPORT OF DANTE ACOSTA
JOBSPAC, A BI-PARTISAN COALITION OF CALIFORNIA EMPLOYERS $129,631.26 IN OPPOSITION TO CHRISTY SMITH

California State Council of Service Employees Political Committee $71,561.42 IN SUPPORT OF Christy Smith

California Teachers Association Independent Expenditure Committee $81,156.76 IN SUPPORT OF Christy Smith

Planned Parenthood Advocacy Project Los Angeles County Action Fund $7,027.25 IN SUPPORT OF Christy Smith
Planned Parenthood Advocacy Project Los Angeles County Action Fund $1,549.26 IN OPPOSITION TO Dante Acosta

Committee for Working Families, sponsored by the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO $47,544.75 IN SUPPORT OF Christy Smith


Independent Expenditure Activity in Primary: TOTAL IE SPENDING $115,356.10

EdVoice Independent Expenditure Committee $5,000.00 IN SUPPORT OF Dante Acosta

ACOSTA FOR ASSEMBLY 2016, GROW ELECT INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURE COMMITTEE TO SUPPORT DANTE $110,356.10 IN SUPPORT OF Dane Acosta


CAMPAIGN 2014:  Asm. Scott Wilk and Democrat Jorge Salomon Fuentes, an electrical engineer and the owner of a small business that distributes fruits, vegetables and dairy products, were the only candidates in the June Primary. 

Fuentes made only a token effort, allowing Wilk to outpoll Fuentes 67% to 33% in the Primary and to do it again by nearly the same margin in the November runoff election.


CAMPAIGN 2012:  Nearly 80 percent of the voters residing in this new district also reside in the old assembly district that was represented by GOP Asm. Cameron Smyth, but he was termed out in 2012, making this an open, safe Republican seat.

Three Republicans entered the June Top Two Primary, the top vote getter with 32% being Scott Wilk, a former aide to Cong. Buck McKeon. Democrat Edward Headington came in second (31%) and faced Wilk in the November runoff election.

Wilk’s major Republican opponent in the Primary was Patricia McKeon, the wife of Congressman Buck McKeon, who strongly supported her and assisted her in raising and spending over $215,000; she received 22% of the vote.

The third Republican on the Primary ballot was Paul Strickland (15%), a member of the William S. Hart School Board and a former district representative for Asm. Smyth. Strickland did not raise the money needed to run a competitive race.

During the primary, Wilk’s endorsements included Rep. Tom McClintock, Sen. Sharon Runner, Asm. Cameron Smyth, Board of Equalization member George Runner, former Sen. Dick Mountjoy, CA Professional Firefighters and Los Angeles Daily News.

In the November runoff election, Headington, the founder of the Headington Media Group (HMG) and co-host of a weekly radio show called “Off the Presses,” raised over $100,000. He received some key endorsements from Valley Democratic political leaders and hired a professional political consultant. But it was not enough to run a truly competitive race and in the end Headington did little more than receive the district’s base Democratic vote.

Wilk’s political consultants: Revolvis Consulting (Duane Dichiara, Jason Rose).


INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURE COMMITTEE ACTIVITY (2012):


DISTRICT PROFILE: Decades ago the San Fernando Valley was filled with conservative middle-class white residents wishing to secede from the city of Los Angeles.  But the San Fernando Valley has changed. It is ethnically diverse and has become the new Hollywood, with many studios located in Burbank and the Valley. 

Those conservatives still exist. They ended up here in the far northwestern corner of the San Fernando Valley, in Santa Clarita and Simi Valley.  But just as urban L.A. eventually entered the San Fernando Valley, it’s not far from here either.  Republicans have just a 5 point registration advantage, but it is an improvement from the old district where the GOP had a 3 point registration advantage.

The FBI routinely ranks Simi Valley as the safest city in America, and Santa Clarita is never far behind on that list.  Incorporated in 1987, Santa Clarita saw its population jump by 37% in the 90’s and in the last decade it increased by 17%.  It’s now the fourth largest city in Los Angeles County.  A symbol of the district’s conservative roots is the Ronald Reagan Library located in Simi Valley.


DISTRICT MAP


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