CA-24, made up largely of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, was on the GOP's target list in 2012. Former Lieutenant Governor and Santa Maria mayor Abel Maldonado was regarded as an "A" list opponent. CA-24 is a D+3.7 district, within 0.4 of CA-3, 21, and 26. Maldonado did worse than the other three Republicans, ending up with a 10 point loss. Two of the districts were open. Was it Lois Capps' strength/incumbency or Abel Maldonado's weakness? Normally a district that's D+3.7 isn't on the GOP's radar, as Republicans only control two districts that Democratic and those were different circumstances.
I've maintained for some time, however, that Obama PVI inflates Democratic strength, as the average Democrat did about 3.4 points worse than Obama. That fits the 2010 results. Carly Fiorina won the district and Meg Whitman lost it by less than 1%. While it wasn't a significant move, only 12 out of the 53 California districts had a more Republican PVI in 2012. So there's reason to believe that the district could be competitive in a mid-term.
The field is shaking out. Actor Chris Mitchum is returning for another go. Mitchum did get 21.5% in the primary last year, which is a testament to the power of the Tea Party more than anything else. (I was all set to pun one of his father's films here, but nothing fit) Mitchum's fundraising was poor.
Santa Barbara City Council member Dale Francisco and former congressional aide Justin Fareed are also running as Republicans. Paul Coyne is running as a Democrat, although his positions sound more Republican than Democratic.
None are serious challengers and Capps will easily dispatch who ever emerges. What would be interesting to see is if a young progressive a la Eric Swalwell decided to run. Someone like that might finish top two and beat the soon to be 76 year old Capps.