Shepard-ing an upset? GOP looks primed to flip Valley Senate seat.

One South Valley Senate seat could be the home of a rare Republican flip in California Legislature.

Sen. Melisa Hurtado (D–Sanger) is on the outside looking in as of Wednesday evening. 

That’s because David Shepard (R–Porterville) holds a 5.2 point lead over Hurtado for the southern Central Valley seat.

Shepard’s campaign found late-inning momentum, courtesy of the Kern-Inyo-Mono Building Trades Council, the organized labor group that represents trade workers.

The group, often shorthanded to “the Trades,” is conventionally an ally of Democratic candidates and causes. Not so in the 16th District, as they backed Shepard over the first-term Democratic Senator.

Shepard leads the race with 52.6 percent support compared to 47.4 percent for Hurtado. 

Shepard’s raw vote advantage sits above 3,000 with over 60,000 ballots counted. 

But the district has nearly 380,000 registered voters, making it far too early to call the race in Shepard’s favor. 

One key that could factor into Hurtado’s favor is the ballots that continue to come in from Kern County. 

So far Kern County has recorded under 20,000 votes in the race. Hurtado leads in support from Kern County voters by a 57-43 margin. 

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.