The power of incumbency was on display in Tuesday’s election in key central San Joaquin Valley races, which shows that voters were satisfied enough with the jobs those officials were doing to keep them in office.
Headlining the march to new terms were congressmen Devin Nunes of Tulare (22nd District) and David Valadao of Hanford (21st District). Both Republicans enjoyed comfortable wins over their Democratic challengers. Incumbent Democrat congressman Jim Costa of Fresno, meanwhile, easily turned back Republican upstart Elizabeth Heng in the 16th District race.
The House of Representatives will revert to Democratic control as that party captured enough seats to become the new majority. That means Nunes will lose his coveted chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee; he will fall back to being the ranking minority member on that panel.
Importantly, that also means Nunes and Valadao will lose influence to work for legislation that might benefit the Valley on such matters as new water supplies.
Costa, by contrast, could enjoy greater status on committees like Natural Resources, which might consider federal support for any new dam project on the San Joaquin River.
Costa pledged that, if re-elected, he would strive for greater bipartisanship in the House. Democrats will be tempted to exact some revenge on Republicans who have treated them poorly these past two years. But Democrats should resist such temptations and work for solutions for the good of the nation.
Incumbency also carried Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) and Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno) to easy wins in the state Assembly. Andreas Borgeas, a Republican from Fresno, forged a clear victory in taking over the Senate District 8 seat from Republican Tom Berryhill, who termed out.
One race where incumbency faced the brick wall of party registration: State Senate District 14. Republican Andy Vidas of Hanford was upset by Democrat Melissa Hurtado of Sanger. Vidak confronted the reality of Democrats outnumbering Republicans.
State legislators will now have to work with new Gov. Gavin Newsom. A Democrat, he has big ideas for improving lives in the Valley, like creating an economic plan specific to this region. The Bee urges the lawmakers of both sides to work with him toward benefiting this special part of the state.