Politics

Valadao launches re-election bid in new 22nd district

Rep. David Valadao (R–Hanford) isn’t shying away from a battle at the ballot box in 2022.

Wednesday, the four-term Republican lawmaker announced that he would seek the newly-drawn 22nd Congressional district.

“My commitment to the Central Valley is stronger than ever,” Valadao said in a statement. “I’ll continue to be an independent member of Congress who will stand up to the divisive partisanship in Washington D.C., get things done to grow our local economy, and deliver more water for our farmers and communities. I’m excited to earn the vote of old friends as well as new voters across Kern, Kings, and Tulare Counties.”

The seat, which encompasses much of his hometown of Hanford and portions of Lemoore, was drawn to incorporate the heavily Latino populations of Kern County.

California’s citizen redistricting commission crafted the district as an Hispanic-majority seat to comply with the Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Valadao represented the 21st Congressional District, which spanned all of Kings County, rural Fresno County, southeastern Tulare County, and hefty portions of Kern County from 2012 to 2018.

Following a razor-thin defeat to TJ Cox (D–Fresno) amid the 2018 Blue Wave, Valadao announced a rematch challenge against Cox. He would defeat his one-time successor and return after a single term away from Capitol Hill.

Since his election, Valadao has made a high priority of extending his landmark water relief bill, the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act of 2016, to maintain stable water supplies and improve California’s water infrastructure.

The new 22nd Congressional District has some geographic distinct similarities to Valadao’s current seat.

Despite eliminating Fresno County residents and some of Kings County in the line change, the 22nd Congressional district still contains the core of Kings County, urban Bakersfield, and Kern County’s northern Highway 99 corridor communities – including Delano, and McFarland.

It also adds half of the city of Tulare and all of Porterville.

Politically speaking, the district presents many of the challenges Valadao has experienced his entire tenure in Congress.

In the current 21st Congressional District, the Hanford dairyman has routinely represented one of the most Democratic leaning seats held by any Republican in the House.

Per voter registration statistics, Democrats held a 16.23 percent registration advantage over Republicans in Valadao’s current seat.

The new 22nd Congressional District is slightly tougher, with Democrats holding a 16.92 percent voter registration advantage.

The Cook Partisan Voting Index, a measure of calculating the partisan lean of a given district, rated Valadao’s 21st seat as being D+5.

This rating means the 21st District voted 5-points more Democratic than the nation as a whole in Presidential elections.

The Cook Political Report’s tentative rating for the new 22nd Congressional District rates the seat as D+6.

Valadao will likely face off against a number of the same challengers who launched bids against him under the old district lines.

Asm. Rudy Salas (D–Bakersfield), Delano Mayor Bryan Osorio (D–Delano), former Fresno City Councilman Chris Mathys (R–Firebaugh), and Hanford businessman Adam Medeiros (R–Hanford) have made their intentions clear to run for the new seat.

Former Asm. Nicole Parra (D–Bakersfield) ended her pursuit of the seat after more than a year running, announcing a bid for California State Senate in the 16th Congressional District.

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