Political Notebook

County prosecutor Andrew Janz says he’ll challenge Devin Nunes for Congress seat

Fresno County prosecutor Andrew Janz, left, says he will run in the 22nd Congressional District for the seat now held by Tulare Republican Devin Nunes.
Fresno County prosecutor Andrew Janz, left, says he will run in the 22nd Congressional District for the seat now held by Tulare Republican Devin Nunes.

A violent-crimes prosecutor with the Fresno County District Attorney’s office is planning to challenge incumbent Rep. Devin Nunes in California’s 22nd Congressional District election in 2018.

Andrew Janz, 33, is launching his campaign Tuesday, touting his prosecutorial credentials and his nearly lifelong connections to the Valley – and criticizing Nunes for his close ties to President Donald Trump and concerns over Nunes’ actions related to an investigation of Russian interference in last year’s presidential election.

At a news conference Wednesday, March 22, 2017, House Intelligence Chair Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, said President Trump's communications may have been "incidentally" picked up during the presidential transition. It was later learned Nunes didn't

“I’m not a politician; I’ve never considered running for Congress until recently,” Janz told The Bee on Monday. “Most of the stuff in local and national media has pushed me to get involved,” he added, referring to a House Ethics Committee investigation into whether Nunes – chairman of the House Intelligence Committee – mishandled classified information related to the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe.

“I deal with confidential information on a daily basis,” Janz said. “I’m in a profession that’s all about ethics.”

It’s my desire to take what I’m doing now as a prosecutor and take that to the voters of the 22nd District.

Andrew Janz, Democrat running for the 22nd Congressional District seat

Janz, a Democrat, grew up in Visalia, graduating from Redwood High School. He received a bachelor of arts degree in economics in 2006 and a master’s degree in public administration in 2009, both from California State University, Stanislaus. Janz earned his law degree from Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles in 2012.

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Janz’s late father immigrated to the U.S. from Canada, and his mother is from Thailand. Janz’s wife, Heather, is from the Valley and is a small-business owner. “My father was a Peace Corps volunteer, and he was a big influence on my life,” he said. “That’s one reason why I joined the DA’s office; it’s my way of giving back to the community.”

After graduating law school, he clerked for a Clark County district court judge in Las Vegas. Janz joined the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office in 2014. He estimates that he’s handled about two dozen trials in the past three years, most of them involving violent offenders.

“As a prosecutor, when I go to court, I take an oath,” Janz said. “My job is to be an advocate for the people of Fresno County. I’ve worked with countless crime victims, and I get these people justice. It’s my desire to take what I’m doing now as a prosecutor and take that to the voters of the 22nd District.”

Nunes has been a formidable candidate since he was first elected in 2002 in what was then the 21st Congressional District, never receiving less than 62 percent of the vote. He ran unopposed in 2010. Reapportionment redrew the districts after the 2010 census, putting Nunes in the 22nd District since 2012. Nunes garnered nearly 68 percent of the vote in 2016, when he handily defeated Democrat Louie J. Campos.

42.8%Republican voter registration in the 22nd Congressional District as of February 2017

32.8%Democratic voter registration

19.3%No party preference in voter registration

Republicans hold a significant voter registration advantage in the district – 42.8 percent of voters identify themselves as Republicans, compared to 32.8 percent Democrats. But a significant proportion of the voters – more than 19 percent – listed no party preference on their registration as of February.

Janz said he’s undaunted and believes there may be some momentum building toward the 2018 election because of Trump’s volatile, confrontational style and proposals over health care and taxes. “I feel like I have a connection with the district,” he said. “I believe I share the values of a lot of the people in the district.”

While he’s a lifelong Democrat, “I’m not the type of person who votes the party line,” Janz said. “I’m willing to listen to anyone.  I’m going to focus on building a coalition of progressives, moderates and people who share the values of the area.”

Protesters voices filled the air with discontent regarding Rep. Devin Nunes, during his appearance at TorNino’s Banquet for a meeting on water. Nunes did not face the protesters, slipping in a rear entrance of the banquet hall.

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