Your guide to the California Congressional District 22 race: Rep. David Valadao vs. Rudy Salas

U.S. Rep. David Valadao, left, and Assemblyman Rudy Salas Jr.
U.S. Rep. David Valadao, left, and Assemblymember Rudy Salas are competing to represent California’s 22nd Congressional District.
(Associated Press)

Republican Rep. David Valadao and Democratic Assemblymember Rudy Salas are battling to represent California’s heavily agricultural 22nd Congressional District, which includes portions of Kern, Kings and Tulare counties.

The race, one of the most competitive in the nation, is one of 10 key California contests in the Nov. 8 midterm election that could determine the balance of power in the House of Representatives.

Democrats see it as a chance to defeat a Republican incumbent after redistricting added more blue-leaning voters from Bakersfield and created a 17.5-percentage-point voter registration advantage over the GOP.



Who are the candidates?

Valadao is one of 10 House Republicans — and the only GOP Californian — who voted to impeach Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection. The son of immigrants from the Azores islands of Portugal, Valadao was born and raised in Hanford. He became a partner in his father’s dairy and farm business and worked with industry groups such as the California Milk Advisory Board and the Western States Dairy Trade Assn.

He was elected to the state Assembly in 2010 and after one term was elected to Congress, where he served from 2013 to 2019. He was defeated by a Democrat in 2018 by 862 votes; two years later, Valadao won a rematch.

Salas grew up picking grapes in Central Valley fields with his father before attending UCLA. After graduating with bachelor’s degrees in political science and history, the Bakersfield native worked at the White House for Vice President Al Gore. He later returned to California as a counselor for Upward Bound and the College Assistance Migrant Program at Cal State Bakersfield, which helps students with farmworking backgrounds transition to college.

In 2010, Salas became the first Latino elected to the Bakersfield City Council. Two years later, he won a seat in the state Assembly, where he voted for a landmark bill that provided farmworkers overtime pay and helped secure state funding for new water wells and cultural centers in the valley. He has also served as co-chair of the New Democrats, a group that typically aligns with business interests.


Both candidates focus on water for farms and homes and support immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship for some immigrants.


Where is District 22?

The 22nd Congressional District sits in the San Joaquin Valley and includes portions of Kern, Kings and Tulare counties.


Where Valadao and Salas stand on abortion

Valadao is a co-sponsor of the Life at Conception Act, which as written would ban abortion nationally with no exceptions. The bill, which was introduced in the House, says “the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being at all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization.”


Before the Supreme Court’s decision this summer reversing Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling guaranteeing a national right to abortion, Valadao signed on to an amicus brief asking the justices to overturn Roe.

Valadao said during a Q&A with Bakersfield’s KGET-TV on Oct. 12 that he supports exceptions in abortion bans for rape, incest and to protect the life of mother, a departure from the Life at Conception Act.

Salas said he believes decisions about abortion “should be left for a woman to make with her physician, her family and within her faith.” He co-sponsored Proposition 1, a constitutional amendment on the ballot Nov. 8, which would explicitly protect the right to an abortion in California.


Where Valadao and Salas stand on healthcare

In 2017, Valadao voted for a House GOP bill that sought to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. (The bill did not pass.) He writes on his campaign website that he “believes the best healthcare is a market-based approach to healthcare reform that provides individuals with competitive choices and addresses the needs of those unable to afford healthcare insurance.”

Salas said he supports making farmworkers eligible for benefits under the Affordable Care Act. He said the Farm Labor Modernization Act, which passed in the House last year, would be the “best first step” to making that a reality.


More broadly, Salas writes on his campaign website that he’ll expand Medicare and “fight to defend the Affordable Care Act against attempts to gut its benefits or allow insurance companies to deny coverage to Californians with preexisting conditions.”

2022 California midterm election: Congressional candidates David Valadao and Rudy Salas on abortion, inflation, homelessness, Central Valley water.

Oct. 25, 2022

In the two months since the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, Republican candidates have been noticeably quiet on the abortion issue.

Aug. 29, 2022


How and where to vote

Ballots have been mailed to all 22 million registered voters in the state. Californians can return ballots by mail, drop them at collection boxes or turn them in at voting centers. They can also cast ballots early at voting centers or wait until Nov. 8 to vote at their neighborhood polling places.

Find out how to register, check voter status and vote here:

Here’s how to vote in the California midterm election, how to register, what to do if you didn’t get mail ballot or if you made a mistake on your ballot.



Follow more election coverage

California voters head to the polls Nov. 8 to vote for U.S. senator, governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, controller, treasurer, attorney general, superintendent of public instruction, the state Board of Equalization, judges, members of Congress and the state Legislature. Local races in Los Angeles include mayor and county sheriff. There are also seven ballot propositions on the table.