Politics

Sources: Heng to abandon U.S. Senate bid for Nunes replacement run

Elizabeth Heng, a one-time Republican contender for a Fresno-based seat in the House of Representatives and current candidate for the U.S. Senate, is set to dump her long-shot bid against Sen. Alex Padilla (D–Calif.) soon.

Sources told The Sun on Tuesday, Heng has begun making fundraising calls in earnest in anticipation of a campaign launch for the springtime special election to replace retiring Rep. Devin Nunes (R–Tulare).

Heng, a Fresno native and alum of Stanford, is best known as an aide to then-House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Rep. Ed Royce (R–Fullerton).

After exiting Capitol Hill in 2017, Heng returned home to run against Rep. Jim Costa (D–Fresno) the following year. Her campaign won some national attention when a campaign ad highlighting her family’s escape of the Khmer Rouge was censored by social media platforms.

She also garnered heightened attention for running a TV ad that depicted a Costa lookalike in high heels to argue he was “walking in Nancy Pelosi’s shoes.”

Ultimately, Costa rode the 2018 Blue Wave to a 15-point thumping of the southeast Fresno native.

Following the 2018 defeat, Heng launched “New Faces PAC,” which raised just shy of $300,000 in 2019 to run TV ads during a 2019 Democratic Presidential Primary Debate featuring a photo of Rep. Alexadria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.) bursting into flames before attempting to tie her to the horrors of Cambodian socialism, with graphic images of the Khmer Rouge.

In March, Heng announced she would launch a campaign against California’s newly-appointed, Padilla.

In the ensuing months, Heng’s Senate campaign peppered supporters with fundraising appeals heavily focused on the failed recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom, despite not running in the replacement election.

Heng closed out the third quarter of 2021 having raised $123,543.25 for the Senate bid with only $28,339.30 cash on hand and facing $44,570 in debt.

Last week, Heng gave her first indication that she’d abandon the wayward Senate run for Congress, tweeting:

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