It’s official: Hurtado launches campaign for Congress

Democrats now have an intriguing choice to make in their efforts to oust David Valadao from Congress and flip the 22nd district from red to blue.

State Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D–Bakersfield) put rumors to rest and officially launched her campaign for the 22nd Congressional District on Tuesday. 

Hurtado’s entrance into the race sets up an interesting choice for voters who now have two Democrats and Rep. David Valadao (R–Hanford) who are running for the seat. 


Driving the news: Hurtado, originally from Sanger, was first elected to the California Senate in 2018 and recently won her reelection bid by a slim 13 votes over Porterville Republican David Shepard. 

  • Former Asm. Rudy Salas (D–Bakersfield) already entered the race as he attempts to rematch Valadao. 
  • Salas also took home an endorsement from former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–San Francisco) last week, signaling strong support from the Democratic establishment that Hurtado will have to overcome. 
  • Hurtado could prove to be a stronger candidate for Democrats than Salas, however, given that Salas lost to Valadao by three points last year despite Democrats holding a 17-point voter registration advantage in the district. 

What they’re saying: “As the proud daughter of immigrant parents and someone who grew up in the Valley, I am very excited to announce my campaign for Congress,” Hurtado said in her announcement. “I want to continue working to make meaningful change to improve our Valley communities.” 

  • Hurtado added that it can be hard for the Valley to get the attention that it deserves. 
  • “But I have refused to take ‘no’ for an answer, pushing for more resources for clean and reliable water, safer communities and better healthcare,” Hurtado said. “And you know what? When you’re not scared of your own shadow like most politicians and refuse to back down, you can prove the naysayers wrong and get things done.” 
  • National Republican Congressional Committee Spokesperson Ben Petersen said, “That sound you hear is swamp Democrats in Washington D.C. wincing as this dumpster fire primary takes hold. Self-serving politician Melissa Hurtado endorsed raising the gas tax, attacked public safety and sought to block water storage for the Central Valley. Hurtado’s extreme record is why she nearly lost last year, but definitely will this year.”
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