Shepard, Porterville farmer, jumps into south Valley Senate tussle

A south Valley State Senate seat that appeared to shape-up to be a Democrat-dominated affair is no-more.

Tuesday, Republican Porterville farmer David Shepard announced his candidacy for the newly-drawn 16th Senate District, covering southeastern Tulare County, Kings County, and the Highway 99 corridor of Kern County.

Shepard is the product of migrant farm workers who emigrated to Bakersfield from Guanajato, Mexico and the Merritt Family, owners of E.W. Merritt Farms in Porterville.

A key portion of the family business, Shepard runs the family’s table grape growing operation along with production in its almond and pistachio orchards.

In launching his campaign Shepard boasts the backing of Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux and former Assembly GOP Leader (and current Congressional hopeful) Connie Conway.

“David understands the needs of Central Valley families and will be a fierce advocate for public safety in Sacramento,” Boudreaux said in a statement.

The Porterville College and UCLA alum will face off against a lengthy list of Democrats, including former Asm. Nicole Parra (D–Bakersfield), Delano Mayor Bryan Osorio, Kern County labor leader Imelda Ceja, and Porterville attorney Rob Fuentes.

The district boasts a 12 percent voter registration advantage for Democrats. Despite the advantage afforded to Democrats,, the sheer number of Democratic contenders in the race may guarantee Shepard a top-two spot in the June Primary en route to November.

Reid Stone is a contributing reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun.