The central San Joaquin Valley’s three main congressional seats each have well-established incumbents – two who have fought back repeated challengers, and a third who never has been seriously tested in his time in office.
This year, all three have at least two challengers. That means a contested primary election in which one of the three candidates will get bumped in the June primary election, and the top two finishers will move on to a November runoff.
In the 21st Congressional District, incumbent Hanford Republican David Valadao is being challenged by Democrats Emilio Huerta of Bakersfield and Daniel Parra of Fowler.
Democrats continue to be mystified that they can’t mount a serious challenge in the district, where they hold a more than 16-percentage point voter registration advantage.
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Valadao convincingly beat Fresno Democrat John Hernandez in 2012 and did the same to well-financed Sanger Democrat Amanda Renteria in 2014. Valadao likely will finish first in the June primary election, leaving Huerta and Parra to battle over who will challenge him in November.
The two already have battled over the Democratic Party endorsement. Parra won the party’s pre-endorsement earlier in the year, but Huerta was able to block that, which pushed the endorsement fight to the state Democratic Party convention, where Parra again prevailed in the regional caucus. Huerta then successfully sought a vote of the full convention, and in the end neither candidate was able to muster the required votes to win the party endorsement.
In the 16th Congressional District, incumbent Fresno Democrat Jim Costa is facing two Republican challengers. Rural Fresno County dairy farmer Johnny Tacherra is making his third straight run at Costa, with Madera County Supervisor David Rogers also running.
Tacherra failed to make it past the primary in 2012, but in 2014 he emerged from the primary and then came close to upsetting Costa in an election that saw Republicans winning nationwide.
Rogers, of Chowchilla, has proven to be an effective fundraiser – at least in comparison to Tacherra – in the early going. Only one of the two Republicans is likely to move on to November to challenge Costa, who will almost certainly win the June primary.
In the 22nd Congressional District, incumbent Tulare Republican Devin Nunes never has been seriously challenged since first being elected in 2002. This year may be no different, but he does have two challengers – Democrat Louie Campos of Visalia and also a challenger from his political right, fellow Republican Teresita “Tess” Andres of Visalia, who made an unsuccessful 26th Assembly District run in 2014.
At the state level, four Assembly districts will have contested races.
Already known is the 31st District race to replace Fresno Democrat Henry T. Perea, who resigned from office early to take a pharmaceutical industry job.
Republican Fresno City Councilman Clint Olivier, Kingsburg physician Joaquin Arambula and Caruthers engineer Ted Miller are already in an April 5 special election, but that is only to fill Perea’s unexpired term, which ends this December. The same three also are squaring off for a full two-year term. One of the three will be on the losing end in the June primary.
In the 26th District, Woodlake Mayor Rudy Mendoza, a Republican, is seeking a rematch against one-term incumbent Devon Mathis of Visalia, also a Republican. Mathis beat Mendoza in 2014.
North Fork Republican Frank Bigelow looks to be facing three challengers in the sprawling 5th Assembly District – Kai Ellsworth, an El Dorado County Democrat, Robert Carabas, a Tuolumne County Democrat, and Mark Belden from Calaveras County, who is registered with no party preference. Belden unsuccessfully sought the seat in 2012.
Even Fresno Republican Jim Patterson is facing a challenger – from his own party. Patterson, who was unopposed in 2014, will face Fresno Republican Gwen Morris, a retired executive.
Tulare County supervisors
Tulare County also has three supervisor districts up for election.
They are District 1 covering Exeter, Farmersville, Three Rivers, Lindsay and east Visalia; District 2 covering Tulare, Tipton, Pixley, Earlimart and southwestern Tulare County; and District 3 covering much of Visalia.
In District 1, the filing deadline was extended until Wednesday because three-term incumbent Allen Ishida of Lindsay is not seeking re-election.
Eight people have filed papers and paid their fees for the election to replace Ishida:
John Elliott of Three Rivers, publisher of the Kaweah Commonwealth weekly newspaper and a member of the Tulare County Planning Commission; Dennis Smith of Farmersville, a small-business owner; Angel Galvez of Exeter, an administrative specialist; Ted Macaulay of Exeter, insurance agent and former Exeter City Council member and mayor; Vincent Salinas of Visalia, a business consultant and former member of the Visalia Planning Commission; Brian Poochigian of Visalia, a logistics manager for a produce trucking company; Rosaena (Arevalo) Sanchez of Lindsay, a self-sufficiency counselor and member of the Lindsay City Council; and Kuyler Crocker, a farmer and energy adviser.
In District 2, Supervisor Pete Vander Poel of Tulare faces no opposition and is guaranteed another term. He was first elected in 2008.
In District 3, incumbent Phil Cox of Visalia is being challenged by Amy Shuklian of Visalia, a recreation therapist and member of the Visalia City Council.
Madera County supervisors
Madera County will have one contested supervisor race.
In District 3, which covers a portion of the city of Madera and nearby areas, incumbent Rick Farinelli is being challenged by Madera Mayor Robert Poythress.
Max Rodriguez, a Madera resident and the District 4 incumbent, in unopposed for re-election.
Kings County supervisors
In Kings County, two supervisorial districts are up for election.
They are District 2 covering Corcoran, Avenal and Kettleman City, and District 5 covering east Hanford and eastern Kings County north and south of Highway 198.
In District 2, two-term incumbent Richard Valle is being challenged by Debra Kwast of Corcoran, owner of the Radio Shack store in Corcoran.
In District 5, two-term incumbent Richard Fagundes is being challenged by Greg Strickland of Hanford, a former Kings County district attorney.
Supervisor races with just two candidates will be decided in June. In those with more than two candidates, the top two finishers advance to a November runoff unless one of the candidates wins more than 50 percent of the vote.
Fresno County supervisors
In Fresno County, incumbent Andreas Borgeas will be unopposed for re-election in District 2.
In the District 5 race, Clovis Councilman Nathan Magsig, businessman Alex Ott and Prather resident Lauren Stephens will battle to replace outgoing incumbent Debbie Poochigian.
In District 3, businessman Tony Gastelum, former Fresno City Councilman Dan Ronquillo and current Fresno City Councilman Sal Quintero will fight it out to replace Perea.