With apologies to Devin Nunes, Andrew Janz and anyone else whose name appears on the Congressional District 22 ballot, Tuesday's primary isn't really about them.
It's about Donald Trump.
If you're someone who believes President Trump is doing a bang-up job, making America great again while fending off the evil forces of Robert Mueller, the FBI and the deep state, you'll be casting your vote for Nunes.
If the very sight of Trump on your TV makes you want to throw up in your mouth, you'll be voting for Janz.
Couldn't be more simple.
It would be nice if Tuesday's District 22 vote were about the actual candidates – and perhaps it will be in November's general election – but for now this is our own little referendum on Trump.
How can it not be?
Nunes has served 16 years in Congress with a legislative record thinner than one-ply toilet paper. But since he comes from a farming background and talks a good game on water, despite little to no results, we keep sending him back to Capitol Hill with little to no fuss.
With Trump in the White House, Nunes has morphed into something else. As Trump's protector or lackey (your choice) on Russiagate, he has become less our Congressman, practically invisible back home, and more one of the country's most divisive political figures.
"Generally people vote local, but Nunes at the moment isn't giving them anything to vote on locally," said Thomas Holyoke, a Fresno State political science professor. "Which is part of what could hurt him. When there's no local issue to make a decision on, it becomes about Donald Trump."
Trump is also the reason Nunes has a feisty challenger in Janz, the Fresno County deputy district attorney whose political ambitions were prompted by the last presidential election. ("I was looking around trying to figure out how we don't have a Donald Trump presidency ever again," Janz told The Bee's editorial board in February.)
While Janz has spent the past several months pressing flesh in the district and raising money ($1.86 million as of May 16), we still don't know much about him or what he stands for. Mainly, we know he's not Nunes – or attached to Trump's hip.
A Janz TV spot only underscores that point. It depicts the 34-year-old prosecutor driving through neighborhoods, visiting crime scenes, walking through Courthouse Park and rising before a judge while tugging on the lapels of his suit. The voice-over says he'll fight political corruption and special interests in Washington "because it's time for leaders who put people before their political careers."
Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge. Two things that aren't mentioned in the ad: The name "Devin Nunes" and the fact that Janz is a Democrat.
"He's playing up his biggest strength, which is being a prosecutor in a district that values law and order, and playing up Nunes' biggest weakness as an absentee Congressman," Holyoke said. "Which is exactly what he should be doing."
Nunes and Janz will be the top vote-getters in Tuesday's top-two primary. That much is safe to assume. What we don't know, yet, is whether Nunes' close ties to Trump will put a dent in his popularity back home.
During his time in Congress, Nunes has enjoyed overwhelming support from the local electorate. Seven out of eight times, we've sent him back to Washington, D.C., with at least two-thirds of the vote.
Trump's popularity here is much less established. In 2016 the president carried District 22 on the way to his surprising victory, but the 52 percent of the vote Trump garnered was significantly less than Nunes' 68. The question for next week becomes how much that number will shrink.
"If it's less than 60 (percent), then Nunes should start being worried," Holyoke said. "If it's under 50, Nunes should be downright terrified. I can't imagine it will be under 50. I'd imagine it will be around 60."
Likewise, to have any hope in November and keep the campaign contributions flowing, Janz needs to show he's a credible challenger. To Holyoke, that means somewhere between 35 to 40 percent.
"It would show Janz is building a coalition that will come out to vote for him," he said.
Since Janz hasn't run for election to any office since he was student body president of Cal State Stanislaus, that remains an open question. Tuesday will begin to provide some answers.
Regardless of his popularity on social media and with left-leaning celebrities, Janz is in large part an unknown. At this juncture, the people supporting him are doing so mainly as a response to how much they detest Trump and Nunes.
Meanwhile, Nunes has hitched his wagon so closely to a president with 41 percent approval ratings that it could hurt him. If not over Russian influence in our elections, then over the threat of a trade war with China that would cost Valley farmers dearly. The same farmers Nunes counts among his staunchest supporters.
Trump isn't running for office in 2018, but make no mistake. The shadow he casts over every ballot cast in Tuesday's primary is inescapable.