Democrats are looking for someone to mount a congressional challenge against incumbent Hanford Republican David Valadao. Fowler Mayor Pro-Tem Daniel T. Parra is interested.
But Parra won’t commit to a 21st Congressional District run if he’s simply viewed as a token challenger. He wants to know the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will offer financial backing.
“I want to make sure they are fully committed,” Parra said.
Last year, Parra made an unsuccessful Fresno County supervisor run, losing to Buddy Mendes. Parra, 49, said he ran an underfunded race while Mendes was flush with cash.
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“I don’t want to go in handicapped like that anymore,” he said.
To date, Parra has been encouraged by Democrats in Kern, Kings and Fresno counties and has had phone conversations with the DCCC. Next week, he’ll meet in person with DCCC officials. He expects to make a final decision about the congressional run soon after.
So far, Valadao was proven a adept campaigner, twice winning the 21st District seat even though Democrats hold a sizable voter-registration advantage.
In 2012, Valadao handily beat underfunded Fresno Democrat John Hernandez. Last year, he easily dispatched well-financed Sanger Democrat Amanda Renteria.
Democrats continue to feel Valadao is beatable, especially next year, when they predict turnout will be boosted by the presidential election.
And, for their part, Republicans appear to be taking no chances. Valadao was recently named to the National Republican Congressional Committee’s Patriot Program, which helps Republicans who may be vulnerable.
Looking for a Valadao challenger, the DCCC had earlier reached out to Joaquin Arambula, who is the son of former state Assembly Member and Fresno County Supervisor Juan Arambula. He decided against a run because of family issues. He is instead weighing a state Assembly run.
Another possibility was a second attempt by Renteria, though that never appeared to be a realistic option. Renteria first looked like a state Assembly candidate, but now appears headed to a top post in Hillary Clinton’s likely presidential campaign.
If Parra does run, he says he’ll “be rolling the dice.” He’s up for reelection in Fowler. If he runs for Congress, he’ll have to pass on a reelection bid in Fowler.