Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

Democrats look to Bakersfield school trustee for Valadao challenge

Local and national Democrats think a Bakersfield City School District member might make the perfect challenger for first-term congressman David Valadao, a Hanford Republican.

Andrae Gonzales is currently the board’s president pro tem. Democrats call him an “up-and-comer.” Even Bakersfield Republican political consultant Stan Harper calls him “viable” and “bright.”

Andrae Gonzales

The question is: Can he unseat Valadao in the 21st Congressional District?

Democrats are still unhappy that they failed to even put up a fight for the seat last November. They hold a 15-percentage-point registration advantage in the district over the rival Republicans, but Valadao thumped Fresno Democrat John Hernandez, 58% to 42%.

Despite the registration advantage for Democrats, it never looked good for them during last year’s campaign.

Hernandez never seemed to get off the ground. His campaign seemed unfocused and not nearly visible enough. It was also dogged by debt.

Democrats never wanted Hernandez in the first place. They preferred Fresno City Council Member Blong Xiong, but in the state’s new top two primary, Valadao and Hernandez finished one-two. Xiong was left on the sidelines.

Now, Hernandez says he’s running again. And Democrats once again want an alternative, said Matt Rogers, chairman of the Fresno County Young Democrats.

Rogers said he spoke with Gonzales on Thursday morning, and the 31-year-old is interested in a run against Valadao. And, Rogers said, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has also reached out to Gonzales.

Gonzales was also mentioned as a potential candidate to replace Michael Rubio, who abruptly resigned from the state Senate in February. A May 21 special election is set to fill that seat.

John Hernandez

But Gonzales isn’t the only potential candidate. Democrats are also talking to former state Sen. Dean Florez, as well as his mother Fran, a Shafter council member.

Florez might even be preferable for a Valadao challenge, because he twice won election in a Senate district that matches up well with the 21st Congressional District’s current boundaries — which takes in parts of Kern, Tulare and Fresno counties and all of Kings County.

But Rogers said nobody in Democratic Party circles thinks Dean Florez will run.
The bench isn’t very deep for Democrats, either. Another possibility was newly elected Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez, but now she’s running to replace Rubio in the state Senate.

If Gonzales does run — or Dean or Fran Florez, for that matter — the next hurdle would be getting them sufficient funds to mount an effective campaign.
Rogers said Democrats want to hold on the 36th Congressional District, where Raul Ruiz upset incumbent Republican Mary Bono Mack last year. The GOP will likely target that Southern California seat next year.

There are other seats held by Democrats in the state that also must be held, Rogers said.

In the end, will there be enough cash to fund Valadao’s challenger? And, it seems, the party may also have to get that person past a primary that may include Hernandez.


John Estrada says:

The other night in the great Bakersfield Debate the question came up about Leticia Perez running for Congress and she never denied that she was not seeking the seat also! Maybe she wants all three seats Supervisor, Senate and Congress!

srowe says:


Hernandez for Congress

Friday, April 19, 2013

Hernandez Earns More Support!

Blong Xiong, Oliver Baines & Leticia Perez Endorse John Hernandez

The John Hernandez for Congress 2014 Exploratory Committee has been busy this Spring gathering support. Over the past few months we are happy to report that our campaign is gaining traction.

The Hernandez for Congress Exploratory Committee has received the endorsement of Fresno City Councilman, Blong Xiong and Fresno City Councilman, Oliver Baines. “We are delighted to receive their support. Both of these men have been on the Fresno City Council for quite some time and have helped guide Fresno through tough times. Their support means a lot to our campaign” said John Hernandez.

The Hernandez for Congress Exploratory committee in Kern County has been very active gathering additional resources and support. These efforts have garnered the endorsement of Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez. “Our campaign has deep roots in Kern County and we are delighted to report that Supervisor Perez has endorsed my campaign. We are happy to add her to a growing list of supporters” said John Hernandez.

List of endorsements:
Fowler Mayor, David Cardenas
Mendota Mayor, Robert Silva
Selma City Councilman, Jim Avilos
Blong Xiong, Fresno City Councilman
Oliver Baines, Fresno City Councilman
Leticia Perez, Kern County Supervisor

The Hernandez exploratory committee will continue to work hard to earn the support of Democrats in the 21st Congressional District.

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