Focus on Kern’s candidates: David Valadao

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — In June and November, voters in Kern will face a slate of options at the polls. 17 News sits down with Kern candidates so the county can make informed decisions.

We turn to one of the most competitive races in the country – Central Valley’s 22nd Congressional District, which includes parts of Kern, Kings and Tulare counties as well as parts of cities such as Bakersfield, Hanford, Tulare, Arvin, Delano and Porterville.

It is a Latino-majority district that leans Democratic in terms of registration. Voters in that riding would have voted for Joe Biden in 2020 by a margin of almost 13%. However, Republicans have already seen strong turnout in this region. Incumbent David Valadao (R-Hanford) won that area as a Republican on the same ticket in which the district voted for Biden by around 11%.

Three candidates are hoping to overthrow Valadao: Republican Chris Mathys, Republican Adam Medeiros and Democrat Rudy Salas.

Focus on David Valadao

Son of dairy farmers in Portugal, David Valadao considers himself a true child of the Central Valley.

“I represent the type of people that I feel like I am. I think that’s what it’s all about,” Valadao said. “They call it the House of Representatives, I’m a cross section of this district.”

The 45-year-old father of three has spent much of his life working on his family farm in Hanford. So, unsurprisingly, farming, he says, was what brought him to politics in 2010, when he was elected to the state Assembly.

Two years later, Valadao was elected to Congress… serving three low-key self-appointed terms on Capitol Hill before losing his seat to Democrat TJ Cox in 2018.

At that time, Valadao said he returned to his family farm, unsure if he still had a future in politics.

“I started getting phone calls from random people who got my friends home number and my friends cell phone number and started complaining about some of the issues they were having that didn’t work. were unresolved,” Valadao said.

This prompted Valadao to run again in 2020, seeking election to the seat he lost two years prior. This time, the Hanford congressman beat Cox, as a Republican in a district that voted for Joe Biden by a nearly 11% margin in the same election.

But then, just days after being sworn in, came the attack on the Capitol on January 6.

Soon after, came Valadao’s decision to unseat the majority of his party, voting to impeach former President Donald Trump for his role in the attack, a move that thrust the once-low-key congressman into the spotlight. .

“I’m not looking for national attention, so when this happened our phones started going off. Every national news outlet, every international news outlet wanted to interview us,” Valadao said. focused on the local, that’s what my district is, I focus on my district.”

Now he is seeking re-election as a Republican in a solidly blue zone – a position he has held before and a situation he knows well.

“I mean it’s obviously the most Democratic seat held by a Republican in the country and the most Hispanic seat held by a Republican in the country,” Valadao said.

As mentioned, Valadao won as a Republican in a Democratic-majority district in 2020. But after a statewide redistricting this fall, the district is now even a little bluer.

And this time, he faces not just pushback from the left, but also from his own party, many of whom are still deeply upset by the impeachment vote alone.

“When you’re in a district where the reality is that you have to get both sides to vote for you, you go there knowing that at some point you’re going to make everyone mad at you,” he said. -he declares.

Trump himself is expressing his wish to oust all GOP members of the House who voted to impeach him, but the former president has endorsed a challenger for every House Republican running for re-election this year who voted to impeach him, with the exception of Valadao.

“As I said earlier, it’s the most Democratic and remote seat and so I think it’s a seat that even he knows that I’m probably the only one who can win it.”

Going forward, Valadao says among his main issues are water in the Central Valley and immigration.

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