Politics

Democrats make their pick to face off against Nunes. It might surprise you.

As Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) continues to dominate national attention amid public impeachment inquiry hearings in the House Intelligence Committee, a different kind of inquiry looms. 

Which Democrat will get a mano a mano shot against the senior Republican? 

Last weekend, delegates for the California Democratic Party made their voices heard during the party’s convention in Long Beach. 

In a surprise, delegates eschewed the candidate backed by Andrew Janz, Nunes’ heavily-funded opponent in 2018.

The Tulare dairyman faces a crowded field of vying Democrats in the March 3 Primary election next year. 

Among the field is comprised of financial advisor Phil Arballo, former PriceWaterhouseCoopers consultant Dary Rezvani, and health care executive Bobby Bliatout.

Arballo was a contender in the summer special election for a seat on the Fresno City Council.

After the filing deadline for the City Council race closed in June, he dropped out of the race and announced his bid to topple Nunes. 

Almost immediately, he received Janz’s endorsement which came with a hefty fundraising apparatus.

Since announcing, Arballo has raised $382,301.25 in two financial quarters, leading the Democratic field.

On Saturday, however, California Democratic delegates backed Bliatout over Arballo by a three-to-one margin, with the health care executive picking up nearly 62 percent of the delegate vote in Long Beach.

For Bliatout, the endorsement may be the silver bullet to escaping the primary and scoring a November date against Nunes.

As CalMatters reports, in races without an incumbent Democrat in California’s top-two jungle primary, “a state party endorsement can offer voters, many of whom may have little information to go on, an electorally-decisive cue.”

And while Arballo has leveraged Janz’s endorsement and following to lead the field in fundraising, Bliatout has his own method to keeping pace.

In his 2018 third-place primary finish, Bliatout spent $205,831.61 of his own money to compete with Janz. Already, he’s doled out another $101,133.47 of his own money, while raising another $103,465.31 from other individuals.

Photo: Gage Skidmore

Alex Tavlian
Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at alex.tavlian@sjvsun.com.