Another Democrat drops out of hotly-contested south Valley Senate race

Sen. Melissa Hurtado’s decision to avoid an intra-party primary with Anna Caballero is caused a ripple effect a Friday’s filing deadline.

Another candidate has dropped out of the race for Senate District 16 after Melissa Hurtado (D–Sanger) moved into the region to avoid an intra-party showdown with Anna Caballero (D–Salinas). 

Friday, Kern County public health and labor activist Imelda Ceja declined to file papers for the race, officially ending her campaign. 


“It has been wonderful to meet and reconnect with so many Central Valley residents and to hear their stories over the past months on the campaign trail,” Ceja said in a press release. 

“I have decided to discontinue my candidacy for State Senate. However, make no mistake: I will continue to be a leader for Central Valley families – just as I have been for the past 20 years – as president of the Kern, Inyo, and Mono Counties Central Labor Council, a public health specialist, a member of the California Board of Registered Nursing, and in any future opportunities that present themselves.” 

Ceja was appointed by former Gov. Jerry Brown to the California Board of Registered Nursing and has over 20 years of experience in public health working for the Kern County Public Health Services Department. 

She is also involved with the Kern Democratic Party Central Committee, Democratic Women of Kern and Kern Homeless Collaborative. 

Ceja’s decision knocks one more candidate out of the race for the newly-drawn District 16, which covers much of Bakersfield and the west side of the southern Central Valley. 

Her decision is also the latest domino to fall after Hurtado revealed last month that she will seek election in the district. 

Following Hurtado’s announcement, Porterville civil rights attorney Rob Fuentes dropped out of the race. 

In addition to Hurtado, the remaining candidates for District 16 are former Assemblywoman Nicole Parra, Delano Mayor Bryan Osorio and Porterville farmer David Shepard.

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