Congressional confusion kicks off election season

Special election for 22nd Congressional District, 2022 Gubernatorial Primary Election set for June 7, some will vote the same name for two different elections on the same ballot

TULARE COUNTY – An American privilege as any, election season has begun for the June 7, 2022 Gubernatorial Primary Election and Congressional Special Election, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last week.

Some valley voters will have the added confusion of voting for the same office twice—once to fill the 22nd Congressional District void left by Republican Devin Nunes’ sudden departure for Trump Media, and another to select the primary candidates to serve under the redrawn congressional districts after Nunes’ term ends within the year.

Tulare native Nunes has represented the central valley in Congress since 2003, beginning his political career serving on the College of the Sequoias Board of Trustees after winning the election at 22 in 1996—before 9/11, the Iraq War, the advent of social media and COVID-19. The primary to fill his empty seat in the 22nd District for the remainder of his term will be April 5.

It’s hard to miss Devin Nunes’ “Say No to Socialism” political signs that line Highway 99 through Tulare County, highlighting the current 22nd District’s red hue, but that is about to change in a big way.

After the 2022 Gubernatorial Election in November, The area in Tulare County that comprised the current 22nd District—all of Visalia and Tulare—will be split into three districts thanks to the work of the 2020 California Citizens Redistricting Commission. Two of those Districts, The 21st and the 22nd, will be majority Democratic.

Come June 7, many Tulare County voters will find themselves voting to fill the 22nd’s vacancy left by Nunes, as well as casting their vote for a primary candidate in the new 20th, 21st or 22nd District on the very same ballot. Some of the candidates for both will likely be the same person.

Two valley democrats who have unsuccessfully challenged Nunes in the past, Phil Arballo and disabled Marine veteran Eric Garcia, could see their name twice on some June 7 ballots in Tulare County, should they make the cut in the April 7 primary. Both have announced their intent to run to serve out the remainder of Nunes’ term, and would be likely candidates in the new districts.

Fresno Democrat Jim Costa, who currently represents the 16th Congressional District, has announced his intent to run for the new 21st District, an area that voted for Biden by over 21 points in 2020 that includes northern Visalia, Woodlake and Exeter.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is the likely representative for the new 20th District, which went for Trump in 2020 by over 25 points. The district puts southern Visalia and northeastern Tulare in with Clovis to the north, Naval Air Station Lemoore to the west, the Sequoia National Forest to the east and Bakersfield to the south.

The new 22nd—the rest of Tulare, Porterville, the south county unincorporated areas, out to Avenal in Kings County and south into Kern County– voted for Biden by over 13 points in 2020.

The partisan lines appear to be clear in the newly drawn districts, but that hasn’t stopped flips in the past. The current 21st District voted for Biden by almost 11 points in the 2020 election, yet Republican David Valadao was able to flip the seat from Democratic incumbent TJ Cox by less than 2,000 votes the same year.

Also in the running for the special election:

Elizabeth Heng: The self-proclaimed millennial tech rebel who lost to Jim Costa in 2018 will run to fill Nunes’ vacancy as a Republican. The Stanford and Yale grad is CEO of a Fresno-based tech company called The New Internet.

Nathan Magsig: The Fresno County supervisor has announced his run to serve out the remainder of Nunes’ term in the 22nd.

Lourin Hubbard: A Democrat from Bakersfield, Hubbard is an operations manager with the California Department of Water Resources and has announced his intent to run in the special election.

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