Warning: the following is rampant, unconfirmed speculation.

Congressman Devin Nunes announced he is part of President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team. In a statement he said:

“Today I was honored to have been named to the executive committee of President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team. In this role, I will advise President-elect Trump on the appointments of his Cabinet members and on appointments to other top positions in the new administration. I look forward to helping to assemble an energetic and forward-looking team that will capably lead our country toward more economic growth, greater opportunity, and a safer homeland for all Americans.”

So, let’s say Nunes finds a permanent job in Trump’s administration. Maybe he continues his role in intelligence (he currently serves as chairman as the House Intelligence Committee). CIA director? Homeland Security secretary?

Or, Trump feels Nunes’ ag roots are a better fit. Ag secretary? Department of the Interior?

So, speculate that Nunes leaves for a top level cabinet job. That means his congressional seat, which he just won re-election for, would be vacant. Per the Constitution:

“When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.”
— U.S. Constitution, Article I, section 2, clause 4

Which means that Gov. Brown would call a special election to fill the seat. The special election would take place on a Tuesday between 126-140 days from the official vacancy (Election Code 10703(a)).

The primary would take place 63-70 days on a Tuesday before the special election (56-77 days after the vacancy) (Election Code 10704(a)). Because California uses the “Top-Two” system, all names regardless of party would be on the same ballot (Election Code 10705 (a)). If one name receives a majority, that candidate is declared the winner and no special election is needed. If not, the top two vote getters move on to the special election (Election Code 10706).

If Nunes’ 22nd district Congressional seat is vacant, it would be a Valley political free-for-all. There are only three qualifications to run for Congress (U.S. Constitution, Article I, section 2, clause 2):

  1. At least 25 years old
  2. Seven years a citizen of the United States
  3. Resided in the state of which they are running in

Thus, a candidate does not necessarily have to live in Nunes’ district. A possible list of Valley politicians with higher political ambitions:

State senator Tom Berryhill (termed out after 2018)

Assemblyman Jim Patterson (just re-elected to his third term in Sacramento. He still has six years of eligibility after 2018.)

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin (termed out of office after 2016)

Fresno County supervisor Andreas Borgeas (will start serving his second term; no term limits for Supervisor)

Fresno County supervisor Debbie Poochigian (who will leave office after this year)

Fresno councilmen Clint Olivier and Oliver Baines (both termed out after 2018)

Fresno councilman Steve Brandau (will start serving his second and final term through 2020)

Valley farmer Johnny Tacherra (who lost as a candidate to Jim Costa in the 16th district congressional races of 2014 and 2016).


If Patterson or Berryhill succeed in a special election, the same special election process for their then-vacated seats would take place.

If a supervisor or city council seat becomes vacant….well let’s just wait for that to happen first.

E-mail David Taub


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