Fresno resident Marcelino Valdez appears all but certain to be the California Republican Party’s next Central Valley Region vice chair. After all, he’s running unopposed.
Still, the 33-year-old insurance agent is taking no chances.
“I’m running like I have an opponent,” Valdez says. “I want to make sure I earn everybody’s support, or at least talk to them to let them know who I am.”
Valdez’s lone announced opponent, Ruth Crone, dropped out of the race.
Crone, who lives in Sacramento County, had the support of outgoing central region vice chair Prudence Eiland, who lives in Hanford. It could have been an interesting race.
But Valdez points out that an opponent can emerge at any time, right up until the vote is scheduled at next week’s state Republican convention in Sacramento. Voting is slated for the morning of March 2.
As such, Valdez is running a campaign that looks very much like one for public office. He’s got a fancy campaign logo, a Facebook page, and is releasing endorsements, not all at once, but at a steady clip.
Among those backing his campaign are Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, Assembly Member (and former mayor) Jim Patterson, congressmen David Valadao, R-Hanford, and Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, and Tulare County Republican activist Laura Gadke, a former central region vice chair.
Valdez — who lost a 2010 Fresno City Council bid to Clint Olivier — is the kind of Republican that many in the party say they want to highlight. He’s Hispanic. He didn’t even learn to speak English until he was six or seven years old. He’s a self-employed insurance agent.
Eiland said he “fits that mold” of a successful minority — especially Hispanic — who has chosen to be a Republican.
Valdez grew up in Kerman in a non-political household, but as an 18-year-old, worked with conservatives and found he shared their political values and perspectives. He registered as a Republican.
He’s been heavily involved in the local Republican political scene since 2008, but decided to seek the vice-chair position after the state GOP got another drubbing in last November’s election.
“I was very depressed after the November election,” Valdez says. “We’d just given the two-thirds majority (in the state Assembly and state Senate) to the Democrats. I believe in the balance of power. There has to be some balance there.”
Around Christmas, he found out that as a regional vice chair, he could have influence over party issues he feels are important — registering more Republican voters is tops, but also raising money and recruiting quality candidates.
He decided to run.
As for Eiland, the longtime Kings County GOP activist will stay active has head of the county party, but the job of a region vice chair was too much.
The GOP’s Central Valley region covers 11 counties from Kern to Sacramento.
“I had to ride both horses the last two years, and it wore me out,” she says. “It’s more than I want to handle at this time.”