The Valley delegation split along party lines when it came to voting for Nancy Pelosi as House speaker.

Pelosi, already the first woman to hold the gavel, became the first ex-speaker in more than a half-century to retake it. She received 220 votes. Republican Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield received 192 votes.

Interestingly, 15 Democrats — 10 freshmen and five longtime critics — refused to back Pelosi for the job. That left her just four votes above the 216 needed to become speaker.

Photo of GV Wire's David Taub

Politics 101

David Taub

Among the Valley delegation, newly minted Democratic congressmen TJ Cox (D-Fresno) and Josh Harder (D-Turlock) joined veteran Jim Costa (D-Fresno) in voting for Pelosi.

Republicans Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) and Tom McClintock (R-Roseville) voted for McCarthy.

“She is clearly the most qualified to serve in this position, and I believe she will provide strong leadership in restoring checks and balances to our nation’s capital,” Costa said in an email statement. “While we have not always agreed in the past, I expect to work with her on issues that affect our constituents and nation, and from time to time we will disagree.”

In his successful re-election campaign, Costa said he would not vote for Pelosi.

“While we have not always agreed in the past, I expect to work with (Pelosi) on issues that affect our constituents and nation, and from time to time we will disagree.”Rep. Jim Costa

A Costa spokesperson said he kept his vow by opposing Pelosi during the earlier caucus vote to nominate her as a candidate.

“The congressman wanted a more unified caucus, so they can move forward,” Costa’s office said of his floor vote.

Elizabeth Heng, the Republican defeated by Costa, noted his vote in a tweet.

This is the sixth out of eight votes for House speaker that Costa sided with Pelosi on the floor.

McCarthy now serves as the minority leader. It is the first time in U.S. history that both House leaders hail from the same state.

Republicans Already on the Attack vs. Cox, Harder

Voters in Cox’s and Harder’s districts received text messages from the National Republican Congressional Committee on Thursday. The texts assailing Cox and Harder for backing Pelosi as speaker.

The texts were the NRCC’s first paid campaign ads of the 2020 election cycle.

Ted Howze, a Turlock Republican, has already announced his 2020 challenge of Harder.

Oaths and More Oaths

It’s the time for swearing-in ceremonies.

Today (Jan. 3), the House of Representatives swore its 434 members in (one race in North Carolina is still up in the air). The list includes newcomers Cox and Harder, who unseated Republicans David Valadao and Jeff Denham respectively in the election.

Costa, McCarthy, McClintock, and Nunes are the other members of the Valley delegation starting new terms.

Locally, county elected officers and judges begin their respective terms Monday (Jan. 7) at noon. The list includes Sheriff Margaret Mims, who starts her fourth term in office, as well as District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp, beginning her second.

On the judicial front, an informal ceremony Monday marks the start for Robert Mangano and Billy Terrence. Both men won seats to the Fresno County bench in June. A more official enrobing ceremony takes place in the spring.

And, on Tuesday (Jan. 8), Fresno city councilmen Miguel Arias and Nelson Esparza, along with returning members Esmeralda Soria and Luis Chavez take office. An official ceremony takes place Thursday (Jan. 10) 10 a.m. at City Hall.

Ag Commissioner Retiring

Les Wright (Photo: Fresno State)

Outgoing Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner Les Wright will be honored at next Tuesday’s (Jan. 8) Board of Supervisors meeting.

“My career has taken me too many locations in the state, but Fresno County ranks at the top of great places to be. The agricultural industry has welcomed me and made me feel at home. This has allowed me to direct the Department to best serve you, despite what happens in the Sacramento and beyond. The trust and support given me over the years is one of the reasons that makes this decision hard. I will truly miss the people,” Wright said in a statement about his retirement in November.

Wright has been on job as ag commissioner since 2013. His last day is Jan. 27.

The county is in the process of naming a replacement.

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