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Free Rides for 3 Assemblymen, and Wild Cards in House Race
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 5 years ago on
December 27, 2019

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Fresno Republican Assemblyman Jim Patterson is unchallenged on the March ballot.
So are Republican Assemblyman Frank Bigelow of O’Neals, and Democratic Assemblyman Adam Gray of Merced.
But in a Valley congressional race that is expected to be highly competitive, two mavericks — a father and son from outside the region — are running against each other and the field.

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David Taub
Politics 101
These are some of the headlines now that Secretary of State Alex Padilla has certified the list of candidates in statewide and federal races. Here is a rundown:

State Assembly

Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) does not have a certified challenger in the 23rd District. Patterson first won election to the seat in 2012.
Bigelow and Gray are also unchallenged in the 5th and 21st Assembly districts respectively.
In Assembly District 26, Devon Mathis (R-Visalia) faces Drew Phelps, a Democrat and an analyst for Granville Homes. Darius Assemi, publisher of GV Wire, is the president/CEO of Granville Homes.
Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno) goes for his fourth term in the 31st Assembly District. He is challenged by Parlier business owner Fernando Banuelos, a Republican.
In the 32nd Assembly District, Republican Todd Cotta — president/CEO of the Kings Gun Center in Hanford — looks to unseat incumbent Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield). Salas first won election to that seat in 2012.
There are no state Senate seats in the San Joaquin Valley on the ballot.

CD 21: A Rematch Plus Spoilers

The 21st House seat is a 2018 rematch: TJ Cox (D-Fresno) is attempting to hold serve against the man he defeated, former three-term congressman David Valadao, a Republican farmer from Hanford.
Two wild cards (and unconventional candidates, to put it mildly) have joined the race: San Diego businessman Rocky De La Fuente (Republican) and his son, Ricardo De La Fuente (Democrat).
Rocky also will be on the presidential ballot twice — as a candidate for the Republican and American Independent tickets.
His other son, also known as Rocky, is running for president on the Democratic ticket.
Additionally, Ricardo De La Fuente is the Texas ballot as a congressional candidate.
The SJV Sun has background on the De La Fuentes. These are not their first political rodeos.

Other Valley Congressmen Face Challengers

Jim Costa (D-Fresno), in the 16th District, faces two other Democrats — Fresno Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria, and human resources director Kim Williams of Merced — as well as former educator Kevin Cookingham of Madera County. Cookingham is a Republican.
22nd District Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) takes on three Democrats: Bobby Bliatout, Phil Arballo, and Dary Rezvani, all of Fresno. Marine Corps veteran Eric Garcia is in the race, too. He is registered as no party preference.
Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Roseville) faces a crowd in the 4th District, which stretches from north of Lake Tahoe to the Madera and Fresno County foothills. His Democratic opponent is Brynne S. Kennedy. Republicans Julianne Benzel, Jamie Byers, and Jacob Thomas, along with no party preference candidate Robert Lawton, are on the ballot.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) is challenged by Democrat Kim Mangone in the 23rd District.
All of the Assembly and congressional races use the top-two format. That means the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, advance to the Nov. 3 general election. This applies even if only two candidates run.

Map of California’s 4th Congressional District

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David Taub,
Senior Reporter
Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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