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In California’s Central Valley, Valadao prevails in race for Congress

California dairy farmer David Valadao, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach President Trump, defeated Democratic state legislator Rudy Salas for a fifth term in the House representing the agriculture-rich Central Valley, according to unofficial results. The victory expanded the GOP majority in the upcoming session to 219 seats — a one-vote cushion — with four races yet to be decided.

Valadao and Salas, the son of farmworkers, both made water resources for the Central Valley district a top issue in the election. Valadao said he would provide “strong, practical leadership” in Congress. The reapportioned district leaned Democratic, according to party registration, but attack ads blamed Salas for high gasoline prices. Salas was the first Latino elected to the Bakersfield City Council.

With 95% of the vote counted, Valadao led by nearly 3,400 votes, or 4 percentage points, 52-48. The Associated Press called the race for Valadao on Monday night.

Valadao is a member of the House Appropriations subcommittee overseeing USDA and FDA spending. By coincidence, Rep. Dan Newhouse of Washington state, who also voted to impeach Trump following the 2021 mob attack on the Capitol, also serves on the panel. They are the only returning members of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump.

The son of immigrants from the Azore Islands, Valadao has been a regular target of Democrats. He was first elected to the House in 2012, ousted by Democrat TJ Cox in 2018 and in turn, defeated Cox in 2020.

Trump and his allies stayed neutral in this year’s race at the urging of House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, reported the Los Angeles Times. “Given the Democratic tilt of the district, McCarthy convinced Trump that Valadao was the only Republican who could keep that seat.” Two Trump supporters split the protest vote against Valadao in the June “jungle” primary while Valadao and Salas advanced to the general election.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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