California Republican Rep. David Valadao, who voted to impeach Trump, survives primary

Rep. David Valadao and Democratic Assemblyman Rudy Salas in side by side photos.
Rep. David Valadao, left, managed to win a second spot in California’s primary and will face Democratic Assemblyman Rudy Salas in the hotly contested Central Valley race.
Share via

GOP Rep. David Valadao, one of the most endangered Republican congressional incumbents in the nation, has survived the California primary and will advance to the November ballot.

Valadao, of Hanford, will face Assemblymember Rudy Salas, a moderate Democrat, in the contest to represent the 22nd Congressional District in the general election. The Central Valley district includes parts of Kern, Kings and Tulare counties.

Valadao, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, faced challengers from his right. But Trump didn’t publicly attack Valadao. And former Fresno City Councilman Chris Mathys and Kings County Board of Education Trustee Adam Medeiros were not able to secure Trump’s endorsement or raise significant campaign funds.


Mathys came surprisingly close to Valadao after Democrats spent six figures on television ads boosting his candidacy because they believed he would be a weaker foe in the general election.

Now Valadao will face significant challenges in the general election. The district already tilted blue, but after redistricting, Democrats have a 17-point voter registration edge.

Valadao, a dairy farmer, first won election to Congress in 2012. But since then, the region has grown increasingly purple; in 2018, Valadao was defeated by Democrat T.J. Cox by 862 votes. Two years later, Valadao won back the seat from Cox by 1,754 votes — 2 percentage points — even as Joe Biden carried the district by 10 points.

Reps. Mike Garcia and David Valadao are California Republicans in swing districts. One backed former President Trump’s efforts to block the election certification; the other voted for impeachment. Their different approaches could complicate their reelections.

Feb. 8, 2021

The race is among those in the state expected to be hotly contested as Republicans aim to take control of at least one house of Congress in November. California, with its 52-seat congressional delegation — still the largest even after losing a seat following the latest U.S. census — will shape how much power Republicans hold.

In much of the nation, Democrats are on defense, but in California they are hoping to flip Valadao’s seat and at least two others: a northern L.A. County seat held by Rep. Mike Garcia and a congressional district in Orange and Los Angeles counties represented by Rep. Michelle Steel. Those districts became less favorable for the GOP after the once-a-decade redrawing of congressional maps following the census.

Race to fill an L.A. seat

State Sen. Sydney Kamlager, left, and former Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry.

In Los Angeles, former City Councilwoman Jan Perry will be competing in November to represent one of the three California congressional districts now represented by Black politicians.

The Democrat won the second spot on the ballot. State Sen. Sydney Kamlager, also a Democrat, had already advanced to the fall race to represent the 37th district, which includes South Los Angeles, Leimert Park, Ladera Heights and part of Culver City. Democrats have a 59-point voter registration edge over Republicans in the district.

Democratic Rep. Karen Bass, who represents the area now, did not seek reelection; she is running for mayor of Los Angeles. Bass endorsed Kamlager. Other prominent House Democrats, including Rep. Adam B. Schiff of Burbank, have also backed Kamlager. Rep. Maxine Waters of Los Angeles endorsed Perry.