Candidate: A Samohi graduate will face Ben Allen. Courtesy photo

Democratic California State Senator Ben Allen’s name was the only option for voters in CA-24 on the June 7, 2022, primary ballot, but with more than 6,000 district residents writing in a Republican challenger, there will be two names on the midterm ballot this November.

A self-proclaimed “mama bear candidate,” Realtor and Samohi alumna Kristina Irwin, a Republican, failed to meet the threshold to appear on the official primary, falling five signatures short by filing deadline (according to a June 3 tweet), but went on to earn 6,260 write-in votes.

Come November, Irwin will have an uphill battle against Allen, also a Samohi graduate and Santa Monica native. Allen earned 165,421 votes while running unopposed on the official primary ballot in June.

A press release announcing Irwin’s candidacy included references to several key Republican talking points including stating Irwin “stands for our God-given freedoms, law and order, keeping criminals off the streets, election integrity, small businesses, rent control, fiscal growth and lower taxes, medical freedom, safe schools, parental rights, school choice, legal immigration, secure borders, clean air, safe and clean streets and neighborhoods, sufficient energy and water supplies—and, she has a strategy to solve the homeless crisis.”

Irwin, a mother of three, threw her hat in the ring for CA District 24 after failing to collect enough signatures to enter the Los Angeles City Council District 5 race. Irwin announced her CD-5 candidacy in January 2021 but on March 20 of this year tweeted that she had fallen short of the 500 signature threshold. Two weeks later on April 4, she pivoted to the State Senate race.

Irwin’s website,, lists dozens of endorsements including Log Cabin Republicans, former LA County Supervisor Mike Antonovich and bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno. 

On a talk show in April, Irwin said the government’s handling of COVID-19 inspired her to get into politics. “COVID drove me nuts. The school shut-downs, the lockdowns,” Irwin told the hosts of conservative talk radio station AM 870. 

“I’m a mama bear. I don’t need the government to tell me what to do with my kids, what to do with myself,” Irwin said.

During an April 27 Santa Monica Democratic Club meeting, Allen alluded to Irwin’s candidacy, stating there was a write-in candidate who, because of the “top-two system” in statewide elections, would automatically make the No. 2 spot on the November ballot.

“She seems like a very nice person who watches way too much Fox News, and she’s just kind of, like, adopted all the crazy Republican conspiracy theories,” Allen said of his opponent, whom he did not name at the time. Allen said being pushed to campaign more aggressively and engage in debates would be a good thing and he was looking forward to it.

*Editor’s note: Senator Ben Allen described a “top-two system” for statewide elections. An earlier version included a typo.