Political Notebook

Son of UFW founder Huerta enters 21st Congressional race

Emilio Huerta, a Bakersfield attorney and son of United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta, says he’ll run as a Democrat in the 21st Congressional District.
Emilio Huerta, a Bakersfield attorney and son of United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta, says he’ll run as a Democrat in the 21st Congressional District.

Emilio Huerta, an attorney and son of UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta, filed official paperwork New Year’s Day with the Federal Election Commission that he is a candidate for the 21st Congressional District.

The Bakersfield Democrat, 58, then told the Bakersfield Californian on Monday that he was definitely going to run. He joins Fowler Democrat Daniel Parra in the quest to oust incumbent Hanford Republican David Valadao.

After two disappointing Parra campaign fundraising reports, Democrats – including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee – began looking for a viable alternative.

Tulare County native Connie Perez announced a run, only to abruptly less than a month after getting in. Democrats then turned to Bakersfield City School District Trustee Andrae Gonzales, who decided against a run. Now comes Huerta.

The parade of announced and almost candidates has helped fuel a divide between national and some local Democrats, who wonder why the DCCC isn’t trying to work with Parra, who has been in the race more than six months. It prompted National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Zach Hunter to quip in an email: “Emilio Huerta’s entrance into the race will only make the battle between Valley Democrats and the DCCC more bitter.”

Democrats, for their part, remain baffled at their lack of success against Valadao.

The 21st Congressional District, which includes all of Kings County and parts of Kern, Tulare and Fresno counties, is a majority Latino district where President Barack Obama won 55.7 percent of the vote in 2012.

Still, Valadao won 57.8 percent of the vote to Democrat John Hernandez's 42.2 percent in 2012 and won by the same margin last year against Democrat Amanda Renteria, a central San Joaquin Valley native with a sterling résumé and a Stanford undergrad degree.

It’s unclear at this point whether Huerta has assembled an active campaign team. Also unknown is how he’ll do in Fresno and Kings counties, far from his home territory in Bakersfield. One question, however, will definitely be answered: How much political power does the Huerta name carry?

This matters, because the primary election is just six months away. If Parra stays in the race, either he or Huerta will get dumped on June 7, in which the top two finishers, regardless of political party, move on to the November general election.

With two Democrats splitting the vote, Valadao is almost guaranteed to finish first in the primary.

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