Politics

Valadao lead swells, Salas’ path shrinks as Kern Co. votes loom in 22nd Congressional battle

David Valadao’s path to reelection continues to look good as his lead swells to its largest point since Election Night, though a large supply of ballots throughout the southern part of the Central Valley continue to be counted. 

The Hanford Republican led Asm. Rudy Salas (D–Bakersfield) by eight points on election night.

However, due to a surge of 3,747 ballots counted in Tulare County, Valadao’s raw vote lead on Wednesday is actually larger than when he held that eight-point edge over Salas.

Valadao captured 59.14 percent of the votes counted in Tulare County and released on Wednesday.

His lead now sits at 52.78 percent to 47.22 percent with a 3,965-vote lead.

Kern County still has more than 55,000 ballots to count. Progress in the Golden Empire is expected to be even slower than the county’s infamously glacial pace due to its lone ballot counting machine breaking on Tuesday.

Meanwhile Tulare County has around 25,000 ballots left to be tallied. 

Likely well under half of the remaining ballots come from voters residing in the 22nd Congressional District, with the others heading to the 20th – home of soon-to-be House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R–Bakersfield) – and the 21st, which has already been secured by Rep. Jim Costa (D–Fresno). 

Valadao’s lead comes on the back of him over-performing in Kern County so far. 

Democrats lead the voter registration edge in Kern County by a 43 percent to 26 percent margin, a 17-point advantage for Democrats. 

Yet, Valadao is only down in Kern County by about 4.5 points. 

Salas currently leads Kern County 52.31 percent to 47.69 percent. He’ll likely need to pull more than 60 percent of the outstanding votes in his home county to unseat Valadao – a feat that would far surpass his current pace. 

And if Salas was hoping for any help from Tulare County he is likely out of luck. 

A Tuesday evening update from Tulare County added an additional 1,800 more votes in the 22nd district. Valadao took more than 60 percent of those, placing all eyes on Kern County as Salas’ best shot. 

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.