There was another sign this week that national Democrats are behind Amanda Renteria’s congressional challenge of Hanford Republican David Valadao in the 21st District.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said that Renteria qualified for its Red to Blue program. She was one of 16 House candidates named in the initial wave of Red to Blue qualifiers. All are in competitive House races.
Red to Blue is kind of like the Republicans’ Young Guns program. Both the Red to Blue and Young Guns programs set fundraising and organization and infrastructure goals for congressional hopefuls.
Past Young Guns, for example, were Valadao himself in 2012 and state Sen. Andy Vidak, who in 2010 put up a spirited, but ultimately unsuccessful, congressional challenge to incumbent Fresno Democrat Jim Costa.
What both Vidak and Valadao had in common was impressive fundraising.
Renteria has that area covered so far. She put together a strong fundraising start, gathering more than $335,000 in contributions during the final quarter of 2013, which ended Dec. 31.
She’s also a former Senate chief-of-staff who has connections inside the Washington Beltway, as was obvious from a good chunk of her donations. Her time in Washington no doubt also helped her to learn how to put together an effective campaign organization.
For those reasons, Renteria jumped right to the top level of the DCCC’s program, which means it will provide her financial and strategic support.
But Renteria still must clear the primary election hurdle.
There are three people in the race, and under the state’s primary rules, only the top two will move on to the November election.
Besides Renteria and Valadao, the third candidate is Fresno Democrat John Hernandez.
Two years ago, the DCCC’s Red to Blue program got behind Fresno City Council Member Blong Xiong in his challenge of Valadao, though at a lower level. The DCCC called it an “emerging race,” which meant Xiong still had to clear more hurdles to earn DCCC money and strategic support.
But Xiong ended up finishing third in the top two primary, and Hernandez went on to challenge Valadao in the November 2012 general election. Valadao whipped Hernandez.