GOP lawmakers from the Central Valley are split on whether to attend the Republican National Convention as presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump continues to divide members of the party months after his last opponent conceded.
Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, has decided to pass on attending the July 18-21 GOP convention in Cleveland, choosing to meet with constituents in his district instead.
“Congressman Valadao will not be attending the 2016 Republican Convention in Cleveland, Ohio,” his office said. “Instead, he will be working hard in his own Congressional District, touring businesses and meeting with voters throughout the Central Valley.”
Last month, the Hanford Republican said in a statement that he would not endorse either candidate for president. “I am disappointed with the divisive rhetoric coming from this Presidential Election and cannot support either candidate,” Valadao said in the statement released June 22. Early in the 2016 presidential election, Valadao endorsed Jeb Bush but indicated that he would support whoever was the Republican nominee.
Republicans up for reelection in competitive districts have shied away from being tied too closely to Trump.
Trump has faced criticism for comments he has made about Mexican immigrants since formally announcing his campaign in June 2015. Valadao’s 21st Congressional District – which includes Coalinga, Hanford and Delano – is around 72 percent Hispanic.
Other Republican lawmakers from California, like Rep. Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, have also decided to skip the convention and spend the week campaigning in their districts.
High-profile Republicans like former President George W. Bush, former Republican nominee Mitt Romney, and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, have also indicated they will pass on their party’s convention.
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, and Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove, will be attending, their offices confirmed Thursday. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, will be attending and speaking at the convention on Tuesday night, said Matt Sparks, a spokesman for the congressman.
Central San Joaquin Valley GOP delegates
16th Congressional District
Jeffrey Christensen, Fresno
Fred Fagundes, Madera
Brittanni Shollenbarger, Fresno
21st Congressional District
Aubrey Bettencourt, Hanford
Kelley William Boudreau, Coalinga
Vernon Costa, Hanford
22nd Congressional District
Michael Der Manouel Jr., Fresno
Tom Fife, Visalia
Bob Smittcamp, Fresno