With Vidak out, Valadao’s prospects get better
UPDATE (Friday): While the drama in the new 21st congressional district is still very much in-waiting, former Jim Costa challenger Andy Vidak said that he wouldn’t stake another run for a congressional seat.
The move might be for the best for the now Kings County centric district. The likelihood that Vidak could replicate his success in 2012 seems unlikely (despite learning from mistakes in 2010).
With Vidak’s seal of approval, freshman Assemblyman David Valadao might want to schedule a meeting with House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy to prepare for the ensuing battle for the seat.
ORIGINAL (THURSDAY): After the Citizens Redistricting Commission released its preliminary final maps there was one race that stuck out amongst the Valley political world: the California 21st Congressional District (currently known as the California 20th Congressional District).
Only a year has passed since Democratic Rep. Jim Costa fought for his political life against Republican challenger Andy Vidak. The district has been consistently viewed by Republican party leaders as one that could be taken back from the Blue Dog coalition.
Vidak’s perilously close defeat proved the party’s conventional wisdom correct. In a post-mortem, there were two obvious areas needing improvement: fundraising and get-out-the-vote operations.
LOOKING BACK ON 2010:
The Money Haul
Like the countless number of Republican freshman in Congress, Andy Vidak’s campaign relied heavily on media buys from Karl Rove-linked Crossroads GPS and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce PAC. The two did around 95% of his dirty work in slamming Costa’s record on water and business.
Had Valley Republican consultants taken a great look at the two districts needing attention: the 19th and then-20th, donations from local bundlers would have been shipped to Vidak instead of Jeff Denham.
Fortunately, they won’t make that mistake twice.
Getting people to the polls
Vidak’s greatest weakness in the 20th district was the district’s contingency of Fresno County. Known for being considerably more liberal, the area posed a serious problem to the Republican’s strategy.
Looking at the results of the election, Vidak had strength in his home county, Kings, and only trailed Costa in Kern and Fresno County by margin of 6,000 to 7,000 votes each.
MOVING TOWARD 2012:
If approved by the redistricting commission, Costa will no longer be an issue for Republicans seeking the seat as his home will be in the new 16th Congressional district, the same as fellow Democrat and ally Rep. Dennis Cardoza.
With Costa not likely moving any south of his current residence, it seems a fresh face will represent the farming communities stretching from Fresno County into Bakersfield.
Andy Vidak seemed ready to run again for the district about 10 minutes after he conceded the election to Costa. Thus, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Vidak will likely run for the Republican nomination.
Fortunately for Vidak, Republicans generally like him. He’s got the support of fellow right-leaning farmers and the Tea Party. What he’ll need to do is push for financial support from high-dollar donors to set up his campaign and then execute a strong strategy to pull from Kern and southern Fresno Counties.
But he’ll likely have some competition for the nod, which is no longer a shoe-in.
According to the Hanford Sentinel, another political neophyte from Hanford will be in the ranks with Vidak: freshman Assemblyman David Valadao. After knocking off Fran Florez in the 2010 election, Valadao’s nice-guy, tough campaign style fit his district well; apparently well enough to take a stab at a Congressional run.
Valadao does have some vulnerabilities heading into a match up with any Republican or Democrat: he could be viewed as an extreme mover and shaker who hasn’t earned his chops in his current position.
Hopefully, you noted the singularity for this section. There is only one Democrat that is attracting any attention, and he hasn’t yet committed to a Congressional run: state Sen. Michael Rubio of Bakersfield.
Rubio ran his state senate campaign based on being a bi-partisan Democrat, not being noted for being contentiously liberal and able to work with Republicans. For Republicans, there is only one way to spin Rubio: create a new Costa boogeyman.
Having framed himself as a more conservative, or rather less liberal Democrat, Rubio sets himself up to be a Blue Dog similar to his could-be predecessor.
Fortunately for the residents of the new 21st district, you can bet World War III will reign down through television, radio and slate mail ads as some of the Valley’s biggest political names puree each other for a taste of Washington life.
So, grab the popcorn before the show starts.