Burrows, Fresno legislative aide, launches longshot bid to oust McCarthy

Kevin McCarthy is the new Devin Nunes, target of local Democrats hoping to undertake lucrative longshot campaigns against a national figure.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R–Bakersfield) may have emerged from 15 rounds of voting with the gavel, but to Valley Democrats, however, he’s become the new Devin Nunes – a homegrown-yet-towering national figure against whom to launch lucrative longshot campaigns every two years.

Tuesday, John Burrows, a City of Fresno legislative staffer and small businessman, filed paperwork to launch his own challenge of McCarthy with a formal announcement set to arrive later Thursday.


State of play: Burrows, a Fresno public relations director for Fresno City Council member Nelson Esparza, filed paperwork with the FEC to launch his bid against McCarthy in the sprawling, four-county 20th Congressional District.

  • A Fresno native and UC Santa Cruz grad, Burrows has his own experience in the political arena outside of Fresno’s City Hall, once serving as executive director of Fearless Action PAC – a group that launched viral attacks on Nunes when his profile summited to household name during his tenure as House Intelligence Committee chair.
  • Burrows doesn’t arrive to the race empty-handed. He’s already secured the backing of five of the six Democrats on the Fresno City Council – Esparza, Council President Tyler Maxwell, Miguel Arias, Luis Chavez, and Annalisa Perea – along with the California Democratic Party’s powerful San Joaquin Valley region director, Humberto Gomez.

Inside the bubbling McCarthy Mania: Burrows also isn’t the only challenger to pull the trigger on a bid. Bakersfield native and recent Fresno State grad Andy Morales jumped in the fray last week.

  • Morales, for his part, has received heavy backing from perennial Congressional wannabe Phil Arballo who suffered a 8.4-point blowout loss to Nunes in 2020 and didn’t escape the 2022 primary for the open 13th Congressional seat (ultimately captured by Rep. John Duarte (R–Modesto)).
  • Arballo transitioned his talents from Congressional punching bag to consultant for Morales, though he still has a committee open to run for the 13th Congressional District in 2024.

What they’re saying: In a statement announcing his bid, Burrows is painting McCarthy as out-of-touch with the Valley’s needs.

  • “Kevin McCarthy is out of touch with the everyday struggles of the Central Valley. As a successful entrepreneur and experienced public servant, I have a deep understanding of the local economy and am committed to working with lawmakers from both parties to deliver results for the hardworking families of the Central Valley,” Burrows said.
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