California’s Central Valley is right at the center of 2018’s historic elections.
Over the last several weeks, I’ve received calls from political friends (reporters, consultants, pollsters) asking about the Central Valley. In those conversations, I was reminded of how few people understand the region or have folks on the ground to track races. And yet, the Central Valley might just be the most powerful region in the country.
Here’s what I mean – we are home to the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes, second highest-ranking Republican Kevin McCarthy and at least 3 contested Congressional races. The outcomes of these races could immediately change the direction of our country.
Now, add in state races, where the key to the supermajority in the State Senate and House runs right through the Valley.
Finally, and something most political analysts can’t see from afar, there are several highly engaged down-ballot races that, in sum, have the potential to put higher ballot races over the top. To put a finer point on it, these local races are in key towns for Democrats and there have never been so many new and exciting campaigns!
So, bottom-line, it’s time to check in to the Central Valley and keep it on the radar. Over these final weeks, I will send out updates about the dynamics on the ground with a bit about all the overlapping races!
Overview of State and Federal Races in the Valley
SD-12 Caballero-D vs Poythress-R Anna, a former Assemblywoman who starts off with name recognition and a great base, was just endorsed by the Sheriffs Association and Republican County Supervisor. You don’t see that very often, especially these days! SD-14 Vidak-R vs Hurtado-D Hurtado, the only woman on Sanger’s City Council, has an important base in a key Dem-majority city. By the way, Trump lost this district by 22.7 points! AD-23 Patterson-R vs Rizo-D The district has never had a candidate like this – Aileen Rizo is known locally and nationally for her Equal Pay fight in California. AD-26 Mathis-R vs Sigala-D No one is harder working on the doors than Jose Sigala. What’s more is that the #EnoughIsEnough project has targeted this race because of Devin Mathis’ sexual harassment issues. AD-31 Arambula-D vs Espinoza-R Dr. Arambula has stayed true to his profession and just released his quality healthcare report for the Valley. Trump lost this district by almost 30 points. AD-32 Salas-D vs Mendes-R Rudy has been doing important work in the Capitol on Valley Fever legislation that impacts all Valley families. He’s also joint campaigning with TJ Cox in Lamont, leading the #ValleyTogether effort in the south Valley! Trump lost this district by 18.5 points.
CA-10 Denham-R vs Harder-D The Latino Roundtable switched their endorsement from Denham to Harder! Big move in a 40% Latino district. What’s more is that Harder has the resources in money and volunteers to reach out to all Latino voters in the district! CA- 16 Costa-D vs Heng-R Costa released an ad about Heng missing elections. This is no surprise for Costa, his race is rarely called on election night, and it’s been like that for about 14 years. CA-22 Nunes-R vs Janz-D Latest Poll shows Janz within 6 points. And, to celebrate, he threw out a decent pitch at the Visalia Rawhide game! The energy around this campaign locally and nationally just keeps growing. CA-21 Valadao-R vs Cox-D Big news – TJ Cox was on stage with former President Obama talking about the importance of this election! And, mark your calendars for the debate on Oct. 25. Quick reminder: Trump lost this district by 16 points. CA-23 McCarthy-R vs Matta-D It was recently reported that McCarthy is traveling across the country doing a lot more Speaker campaigning than home district campaigning. We will see if that pays off. In the meantime, Matta is active in social media and community leaders keep protesting his office.
There’s a lot of activity in down-ballot races. Remember the MALDEF case in Kern County? Because of it, a county board seat is now up for grabs. Delano, a strong Democrat town, is fired up to choose its new supervisor.
One additional note, there have been significant investments in voter education and engagement throughout the summer. The LA Times had an op-ed about UC Santa Cruz students successfully engaging our youth to vote in the Valley and Paola Ramos (daughter of Jorge Ramos) was just in Sanger at the youth center and doing voter registration!
Anticipating a Historical Turnout
I was recently quoted saying, “We’ve never seen this kind of political engagement across the region.” This will be a historical turnout of new midterm voters, consider the following:
We’ve never had six-figure TV ad buys this far out from election day.
We’ve never had campaigns raise multiple millions in a single quarter (bonus: one of them was all individual donors).
We’ve never had this level of active social media campaigns reaching rural communities and in multiple languages.
Oh, and did I mention billboards and bouncy-houses? Yes, there’s quite a bit of unconventional campaigning intended to galvanize inactive constituencies.
Continuing The Dialogue
I will like to hear your thoughts. Please leave your feedback, questions, or concerns in the comment’s section below, and I’ll do my best to address them. Feel free to forward this guide anyone wishing to learn more about the political landscape in California’s Central Valley and beyond. Fostering open and honest dialogue is the crux for a healthy democracy and I look forward to continuing this dialogue with you.