SACRAMENTO — Fresno insurance agent Marcelino Valdez rolled to an easy election win this morning in his campaign to be the California Republican Party’s next Central Valley Region vice chair.
Valdez, 33, was unopposed for the post after his long challenger, Sacramento County’s Ruth Crone, dropped out of the race weeks ago. But under the state GOP rules, a challenger could have stepped forward right up until 9 this morning, and as delegates gathered in a conference room at the Sacramento Convention Center, Valdez’s people kept handing out campaign stickers and keeping an eye out for any possible 11th-hour challengers.
it made for short work at the meeting, and Valdez soon found himself making a quick acceptance speech. It was all done in about 20 minutes.
Leading up to the vote, Valdez had continued to campaign, putting up signs, handing out stickers and meeting with delegates.
Valdez replaces Kings County Republican Central Committee Chair Prudence Eiland, who decided not to seek re-election.
Now, Valdez says, the hard work begins.
He plans to start by visiting each of the 11 county Republican central committees. Those counties are Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Tuolumne, Merced, Tulare, Stanislaus, San Joaquin and Sacramento. Valdez plans to do a “needs assessment” to find out what the county party’s need to help them succeed in next year’s election.
Valdez’s message: “I need to find out your challenges. How can I help you?”
He expects the feedback to surround technology needs, getting out the vote and ethnic outreach.
Job two is getting those who are registered to actually vote on Election Day. And job three is giving the county parties fundraising help, likely through shared strategies on what has worked elsewhere.
Finally, Valdez says he’ll take the concerns of the county party to the state Republican Party. He feels the state party should work to assist the counties, and not the other way around.
This is especially important, he says, in the San Joaquin Valley.
“Our Valley sometimes feels like your voice isn’t being heard,” Valdez says.
John Ellis files this note from Sacramento, where he’s at the state Republican convention (watch for his next story in Sunday’s Bee):
One of the Marcelino Valdez campaign signs on a wall at the Hyatt in downtown Sacramento.
Fresno insurance agent Marcelino Valdez is still unopposed in his campaign to be the California Republican Party’s next Central Valley Region’s vice chair.
But, as the state GOP’s convention kicked off Friday here in Sacramento, he’s still not acting like it.
Valdez’s only challenger, Sacramento County’s Ruth Crone, long ago dropped out of the race, but Valdez, 33, earlier said he’d keep campaigning like he had an opponent. That’s because an opponent can emerge right up to Saturday at 9 a.m., when voting will start.
That explains the campaign signs adorning walls, the fliers being handed out, and the stickers that say “Marcelino Valdez” that so many people are wearing around the Hyatt hotel in downtown Sacramento, site of the convention.
Valdez has also been meeting with convention delegates to introduce himself and explain his platform.
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.”