Former California Assemblyman Adam Gray launched his campaign for Congress, pitting himself against Rep. John Duarte (R–Modesto) in a rematch for the 13th Congressional District.
With Gray entering the race, the 2024 Congressional elections in the Central Valley are shaping up to be very similar to last year’s contests.
Driving the news: Gray announced Wednesday that he is seeking a rematch with Duarte, hoping to oust the Republican after just one term in office.
- After representing Merced and the surrounding area in the Assembly for 10 year, Gray is pitching himself to voters as a moderate Democrat, someone who is not afraid to go against party leadership for the good of the Central Valley.
- In his announcement, Gray boasted of his accomplishments in the Assembly, which included securing $200 million in funding to establish a medical school at UC Merced, demanding an audit of the Department of Water Resources that revealed California’s water mismanagement and securing funding to crack down on gang-related violence and murder in the Central Valley.
The other side: Shortly after Gray entered the race Wednesday, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) came out firing, going after Gray for voting to raise California’s gas tax by 43 percent and also skipping a vote on a bill that he authored to suspend the gas tax.
The backstory: Last year Gray lost out to Duarte in one of the closest Congressional races in the country by a margin of just 564 votes.
- Gray served in the Assembly from 2012-2022 representing the former 21st Assembly District, which included Merced County and the western region of Stanislaus County.
State of play: Along with the Duarte-Gray rematch, two other Congressional races in the Central Valley are headed for a repeat of 2022.
- Rep. David Valadao (R – Hanford) is once again fending off a challenge from former Bakersfield Democrat Assemblyman Rudy Salas. Valadao, who he beat by just over 3,000 votes.
- However, Valadao’s race is far from certain to be a rematch as State Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D–Bakersfield) has also entered the race, giving Democrats a choice for who they think has the best shot at taking out Valadao in the 22nd District.
- Over in the 21st District, Rep. Jim Costa (D–Fresno) is running against Michael Maher, who he beat by over 9 points last year.
What they’re saying: “After eight months in Washington, self-serving politician John Duarte still has to commute from his Hughson home to the district he pretends to represent,” Gray said. “In Congress, he has consistently bent to the will of Kevin McCarthy while kowtowing to the whims of the radical Freedom Caucus.”
- Gray said Duarte has gutted funding for veterans and seniors, restricted a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions and has put extremist politics over the interests of working people.
- “Our families deserve an authentic voice in Congress, a voice from our part of the Valley,” Gray said. “A voice they can trust.”
- Duarte said, “I am unafraid to stand up to both parties when they hurt our Valley families — whether it’s President Biden’s policies that have sent food and gas prices sky high; or my own party’s immigration bill that would have cost Valley jobs. I will always work with both Republicans and Democrats to fight for police funding to keep our kids safe, water for our families and farms, and good roads and bridges. The Valley is my home, and I will never stop fighting for it.”
- “Central Valley voters rejected Adam Gray after he betrayed them to collect lavish special interest perks,” said NRCC Spokesperson Ben Petersen. “In Sacramento, Gray skipped over 150 votes – and when he did show up, Gray drove up inflation, raised the gas tax and waged war on the Valley’s way of life.”