Stern endorsement sets stage for convention battle

Congressional candidate Katie Hill speaks during a forum last month at Vincenzo's Pizza in Newhall. Seated from left to right: Scott McVarish, Bryan Caforio, Mike Masterman-Smith and Jess Phoenix.

A state senator representing the southwestern portion of Santa Clarita could make waves in the 25th Congressional District primary race after he endorsed Katie Hill, the executive director for nonprofit People Assisting The Homeless, days before the Democratic state convention in San Diego.

Sen. Henry Stern, D-Calabasas, endorsed Hill Tuesday, the first official that represents part of the district to back Hill in the race. During the 2016 election, Stern campaigned with attorney Bryan Caforio, who’s also running for the seat currently held by Congressman Steve Knight.

“As the senator for the Simi, Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys in the 25th, it’s clear that Katie is of, by, and for the people of this district. She’s unapologetic about her values and doesn’t shy away from tough issues,” Stern said in a statement. “Congress needs change—Congress needs Katie Hill.”

When asked by The Signal for additional comment, Stern said via a statement: “I respect all the hard work Bryan has put in over the last few years. My endorsement reflects my view that Katie is simply the best fit in either party to represent our district. California needs partners in Washington who can bridge divides and repair our great union.”

A representative with Caforio’s campaign said the 2016 Democratic congressional candidate has the support of 18 labor unions, 34 local officials, three Democratic clubs and earned 73 percent of the pre-endorsement vote by local delegates last month. Among the local officials are state Assembly candidate and Newhall School District Board President Christy Smith and Saugus Union School District board member Christopher Trunkey. Lieutenant Gov. Gavin Newsom also endorsed Caforio.

“We feel very good about the local community being behind us,” said Caforio campaign manager Nicole DeMont.

There would be another vote at the state convention in San Diego, but she is looking for the Democratic Party to issue a “no endorsement” decision, Hill said.

“It’s important to me that we move beyond partisan politics,” she said.

Stern’s endorsement of Hill is the latest salvo in the battle between Democratic congressional candidates. Hill said she received more notices for endorsements after her fundraising numbers from the previous quarter, where she outraised incumbent Rep. Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, and Caforio, were released.

“The fundraising results were what started the shift in a way,” she said.

Hill raised $252,350.81 while Knight brought in $240,244.10, Caforio received $211,496.93 and geologist Jess Phoenix had $158,033.55.

Knight has more cash on hand—$794,747.79—than the other candidates, according to election data. Hill has $382,848.25 in cash on hand, while Caforio has $377,203.39 in cash on hand while Phoenix has $110,187.58 on hand.

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