Cause for GOP Concern in California's 21st?
Dispatches from a forgotten House race: Some Republicans are starting to get annoyed about California's 21st District, an open seat most analysts assumed the GOP had locked up months ago.
Republican state Assemblyman David Valadao is considered a likely future congressman by most. He is a sitting state legislator, was named a "Young Gun" candidate by the National Republican Congressional Committee, had over $650,000 in the bank at the end of June, and drew third-choice opposition for the general election. Yet a Republican watching the 21st District says private polling is moving the wrong way on the GOP favorite, as Valadao's campaign has taken longer than usual to kick into gear.
President Obama carried the Central Valley district with 53 percent of the vote in 2008, and its population is over 70 percent Hispanic and over 80 percent non-white. But Democrats couldn't find a recruit to carry their banner; state Sen. Michael Rubio opted out of a run in December after his daughter was born with Down syndrome, and Fresno City Councilor Blong Xiong gained the attention of D.C. Democrats before losing the primary to former Central California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce president John Hernandez, who had negative cash on hand at the end of June. But he has aired TV commercials, albeit ones with lower production values than most congressional ads.
Valadao, meanwhile, has only just gone on the air with a TV ad of his own, and his campaign hasn't posted new news to his website since March. National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said that Valadao's ad, which will be on the air in heavy rotation through October, will lock up the race is his favor. "I think polls could be showing the race tight because there's little messaging going on, people are voting on a generic basis," Scarpinato said, noting that the district has a Democratic lean and would have been competitive with a different Democratic candidate. Now that Valadao is on TV (and Hernandez still hasn't proven he can raise money), the race will solidify for Valadao, Scarpinato said.