Central Valley Republican Rep. David Valadao, whose vote to impeach President Trump almost sank his campaign in the primary, will return to Congress next year after defeating Democratic State Rep. Rudy Salas.
The Associated Press called Monday’s race, although official results will be longer. After control of the House of Representatives passed to Republicans last week, Valadao’s win and California’s two remaining congressional elections will determine the size of the GOP’s majority.
“I am once again very impressed with the Central Valley’s support and trust in me,” Valadao said in a statement Monday night. “I commend Rudy Salas for his strong campaign and service to our community in the State Assembly.”
Valadao also thanked campaign workers and volunteers and those still working to count ballots. “To the poll workers in Kern, Kings and Tulare counties – I appreciate your hard work over the last few weeks to ensure that every vote was counted fairly and accurately.”
The race for California’s 22nd congressional district has long been considered a draw. Voters there had sided with Joe Biden over President Trump by 13 percentage points in 2020, making Valadao one of the most vulnerable GOP incumbents in the country.
But Salas, 45, has faced the same headwinds as other Democrats across the country: high gas prices and crime concerns, both of which have been at the center of a spate of assault charges against him.
The Democrats had long tried to recruit Salas to run against Valadao. Prior to his fifth term in the assembly, Salas was the first Latino on Bakersfield City Council.
In the campaign, Salas emphasized his family lineage of farm workers, including summers helping his father in the fields. Valadao also has agricultural bona fides and runs a small dairy farm. Both praised their work to support the district’s water resources, a major concern in this rural area.
Valadao, first elected to Congress in 2012, has been a constant target for Democrats, who held a sizable registration advantage in his district. Valadao, a moderate Republican, had stressed his support for immigration reform and broke with his party. Still, Democrats successfully ousted him in the 2018 blue wave, only for Valadao to win back the seat in 2020.
However, he didn’t have much time to bask in the glory of his victory. The January 6 attack on the Capitol – which he watched from his home in Hanford while quarantined with COVID-19 – resulted in Valadao, 45, being one of 10 House Republicans who voted for voted to impeach President Trump.
The backlash from the right was swift. Two Republicans jumped into the race for Congress, citing Valadao’s impeachment vote as the primary motivator. But while Trump endorsed challengers to all other Republicans seeking re-election, the former president has been conspicuously quiet ahead of the Valadao primary.
Trump stayed out of the race for California’s 22nd district at the urging of GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, who hails from neighboring Bakersfield. Given the district’s Democratic leanings, McCarthy persuaded Trump that Valadao was the only Republican who could keep that seat. In the June primary, Valadao’s two challengers split the vote, allowing the congressman to narrowly advance to the general election.
Valadao’s struggles with the grassroots were symbolic of the fallout for House Republicans who supported impeachment. Of the 10, four chose to retire rather than run again. Four others, including Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, lost in the primary to a Trump-backed opponent. Valadao and Washington Rep. Dan Newhouse are the only ones who will continue to serve in the House of Representatives.
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https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-11-21/2022david-valadao-rudy-salas-congress-central-valley Republican Rep. David Valadao wins reelection in Central Valley