In political circles, the underdog usually issues the challenge to debate. But in California’s 21st congressional district the incumbent is calling out his rival.

Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) challenged Democrat TJ Cox to two televised debates Monday.

“I am very excited to discuss the issues that matter most to our community, from improving access to much-needed water to investing in career-technical education to delivering on our commitment to veterans,” Valadao said in a news release.

Cox Accepts

“We’re happy to debate, and we’ll reply very shortly,” Cox told GV Wire.

Valadao’s proposal calls for two debates Oct. 25. One would be a one-hour forum on KSEE-24 and KGET-17 in Bakersfield (both are NBC affiliates owned by Nexstar). The second debate would be in Spanish with “no interpreters or voice-over translators” to air for 30 minutes on Telemundo.

National poll watchers have mixed opinions on the race. FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver gives Cox a 64.34% probability of winning. However, Cook Political Report and Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball say the district is likely Republican.

According to the Secretary of State, CA-21 has 45% Democratic registration and 28% Republican.

History on Valadao’s Side

Valadao led Cox in the June primary, 63%-37%.

Valadao won the House seat in 2012 with 58% of the vote. He has been reelected by similar margins — 58% in 2014 and 57% in 2016.

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