Elections

David Valadao planning DC campaign fundraiser. When will he make rematch vs. TJ Cox official?

David Valadao, left, a Hanford Republican, lost his congressional seat to Fresno Democrat TJ Cox, right, in 2018.
David Valadao, left, a Hanford Republican, lost his congressional seat to Fresno Democrat TJ Cox, right, in 2018.

Former congressman David Valadao hasn’t yet officially announced he’s running to get his old seat back, but he has announced a fundraiser for his campaign in Washington, D.C.

Valadao, a Republican from Hanford, used to occupy the seat of Rep. TJ Cox, D-Fresno, until Cox unseated him by a margin of less than 1,000 votes in the 2018 election.

Rumors about Valadao running again have circled for months, and last week he filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for the seat. But he has still declined to weigh in publicly on whether he’s running.

However, according to an invitation obtained by McClatchy on Thursday, Valadao is planning a fundraiser in D.C. on Sept. 10 hosted by those in House Republican leadership such as Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming, and Tom Emmer, R-Minnesota.

The fundraiser is at the Capitol Hill Club, a Republican club steps from the U.S. Capitol, and minimum “suggested contribution” to attend is $1,000.

Vern Costa, a representative for Valadao, was still unwilling to say if Valadao was running or not.

“David Valadao has been encouraged to run by folks throughout the Central Valley. People here appreciate his effectiveness and bipartisan leadership. David is the real deal and I know he is strongly considering running,” Costa said. “The fact is, we haven’t had much of a representative the last seven months. TJ Cox seems to spend more time dealing with his own scandals and corruption than he does representing the district.”

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Andy Orellana said it was Valadao scraping “the bottom of the swamp for big checks from his big business bosses.” The DCCC announced early that they’d be defending Cox’s seat in 2020.

“We already knew Valadao prioritized special interests over working families after he voted to rip away health care from 60,000 of his own former constituents, but it seems this time around he’s lost all shame about it and is only listening to whoever writes him the biggest check,” Orellana said.

The invite also directs attendees to visit Valadao’s website, www.valadaoforcongress.com, which is currently not a functioning link.

Cox has a head start on Valadao on fundraising, with about $480,000 in cash on hand to Valadao’s $63,000. Last cycle, Valadao raised about $3.2 million to Cox’s $3 million.

Torunn Sinclair, spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Cox also frequently held fundraisers in D.C.

“Per the FEC TJ Cox has held eight different fundraising events at high-end restaurants and the DCCC’s private club this year,” Sinclair said. “He’s raised more than $108,000 from these events.”

Former Congressman David Valadao talks about the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) during the visit of Vice President Mike Pence to a Lemoore farm located in Kings County in the Central Valley.

TJ Cox defeated incumbent David Valadao for California's 21st district Congressional seat.

Kate Irby is based in Washington, D.C. and reports on issues important to McClatchy’s California newspapers, including the Sacramento Bee, Fresno Bee and Modesto Bee. She previously reported on breaking news in D.C., politics in Florida for the Bradenton Herald and politics in Ohio for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
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