The U.S. Chamber of Commerce this week put $300,000 into an independent media buy in support of Hanford Republican David Valadao, who is seeking his second term in Congress.
Valadao is in a competitive reelection campaign against Democrats Amanda Renteria of Sanger and John Hernandez of Fresno. But only two of the three will move on in the June 3 primary, and since Valadao is the lone Republican in the race, he is widely expected to be one of those two.
Still, the U.S. Chamber appears to be taking no chances, especially as Renteria has, at least recently, nearly matched Valadao’s fundraising. Renteria, however, lags Valadao in the size of her campaign war chest. She reported having $423,965 in her campaign account as of March 31, while Valadao reported having $852,084.
Tony Quinn, a longtime political analyst in California and former Republican legislative aide, says the U.S. Chamber needs Valadao in Congress. The Chamber, he said, wants to hold back Tea Party Republicans from seizing power and moving the House to the far right.
"He is on the side of the Republican establishment," Quinn said of Valadao. "The business community does not want to lose pro-business Republican members.”
But in an email, U.S. Chamber spokeswoman Blair Latoff Holmes said the reason for the support is much simpler and straightforward.
"Valadao has an 85% voting record with the U.S. Chamber and has supported pro-growth policies such as immigration reform and water infrastructure, which would create jobs in the Central Valley and grow our nation’s economy," she said.
The 30-second U.S. Chamber ad is positive. A narrator starts by saying “the Central Valley has seen some tough times recently, and David Valadao understands the challenges we face.”
It then says he’s worked on jobs, water, immigration and the economy.
Valadao, the ad concludes, is “a fighter the Central Valley can depend on.”
Renteria put out a news release Friday challenging the ad. While it portrays Valadao as supporting immigration reform and working to keep families together, the Renteria campaign said his voting records shows a different story.
“It doesn’t matter how much money Congressman Valadao’s outside allies invest in trying to whitewash his voting record, we all know that actions speak louder than words,” Renteria campaign spokeswoman Maria Machuca said in the news release.
The purchase — for television and digital advertisements running between May 7 and 17 — was made Wednesday. It showed up Friday on the Federal Election Commission’s website.
At the same time, the Chamber supported 10 others, both incumbents and hopefuls, in U.S. House and Senate races across the nation in amounts ranging from $200,000 to $800,000.