Political Notebook

Valadao and Renteria, debating twice, debate Renteria's call for four more

You know the election season is just about ready to kick into gear when the challenger in a political race calls on the incumbent to debate.

In northern California’s 7th Congressional District, Republican challenger Doug Ose on Tuesday tweeted that “voters deserve five debates to hear the difference between Rep. (Ami) Bera’s & my vision for a stronger America.”

The day before, Sanger Democrat Amanda Renteria, who is running against incumbent Republican David Valadao in the central San Joaquin Valley’s 21st Congressional District, put out a news release with a similar request — six debates throughout the district between now and Election Day.

Renteria's challenge is very specific. She wants each of the six debates to tackle a different issue: water and agriculture, education, immigration, seniors, veterans and small businesses. She's called for two to be on Spanish-language media.

“It’s important for voters to really hear where we stand on the issues,” Renteria said, “more so in this district because of all the problems we are facing.”

The Valadao-Renteria race is considered by the pundits to be one of a handful of competitive congressional contests across the nation (as is the Bera-Ose clash), so Renteria probably needs every opportunity she can get to convince voters to select her over Valadao.

But Valadao’s campaign says he isn’t shying away from direct encounters with Renteria, as incumbents have sometimes been known to do.

Tal Eslick, Valadao’s campaign spokesman, said two debates are already scheduled — and there will likely be more.

And Renteria’s specific call for six debates?

“This is a campaign gimmick to draw attention away from the fact that our opponent has spent the last decade living in Washington D.C. and is the chosen candidate of the very environmentalists who seek to take our water,” Eslick said.

Renteria said her request was “responsible and reasonable, and even Congressman Valadao says we’ll have more than two debates, so let’s stop the name-calling and talk about the issues. We need a congresswoman who attacks our challenges — like water, immigration reform, and strengthening our schools — not a congressman who just attacks other people.”