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Who Isn't That Masked Man? Cox, Valadao Trade Accusations.
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 4 years ago on
September 23, 2020

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It’s hard to avoid the hard-hitting ads in the TJ Cox-David Valadao congressional race for anyone who watches TV.

Cox, the first term Fresno Democrat, is in a rematch against Valadao, the former Republican office holder.

Round 1 in 2018 went to Cox, winning the 21st Congressional District race by 862 votes.

Spots from both campaigns accused the other candidate of being corrupt. The barbs have continued: one is a tax cheat. The other is a Trump lackey.

Now, the issue of mask wearing, or the lack thereof, has come into play.

It is the latest charge, made by both sides, in closely-contested election.

The Cook Political Report forecasts the race as a toss up; Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball says the district leans Democratic.

Both Campaigns Accuse the Other of Going Maskless

Pictures of Valadao, maskless at a fundraiser last weekend, were posted on the Facebook page of state Senator Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield).

“I’m not surprised to see my opponent endangering others by campaigning without a mask this weekend. With 200,00 Americans dead, there’s no excuse for this type of selfishness. David Valadao needs to follow science and stop taking medical advice from Donald Trump,” Cox told GV Wire℠.

Valadao held a fundraiser last Sunday (Sept. 20) at the Bakersfield home of Dr. Nazar Singh Kooner.

Campaign spokesman Andrew Renteria said the pictures do not tell the whole story.

“This is a quick photo and does not provide context to the larger event, which was outdoors. Dave wears a mask at all indoor and non-socially distanced settings and encourages others to do so as well.”

Meanwhile, the National Republican Congressional Committee, backers of Valadao, produced photos of Cox in public not wearing a mask either.

On June 20, Cox tweeted a photo of himself, maskless, at a Juneteenth celebration in Hanford.

The NRCC also pointed out photos from the Hanford Sentinel of a maskless Cox at a June BlackLivesMatter rally in Hanford.

“Why does TJ Cox feel it’s important his constituents wear a mask, but he doesn’t have to?” NRCC spokeswoman Torunn Sinclair said.

Spending from Outside Sources

While both Cox and Valadao have their own ads running, several of the more inflammatory ads are paid for by third-parties.

The House Majority PAC spent $1 million and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent $551,717  on behalf of Cox according to campaign finance tracking site Open Secrets; the NRCC spent $872,887 for Valadao.

Local TV stations are reaping the benefit. One estimate has CBS 47 clearing $254,000 from Cox 1,104 ads alone and another $25,000 from the DCCC.

Valadao’s campaign is estimated to spend $120,495 for 846 ads also on CBS 47. The NRCC spent $4,800 for 18 ads in August.

The 21st Congressional District spans both the Fresno and Bakersfield TV markets.

Sample of NRCC, DCCC Ads

This is one of the most recent DCCC ads against Valadao, linking him with President Donald Trump. The spot also criticizes Valadao’s handling of his family farm.

TJ Cox’s ad also links Valadao to Trump, calling him a yes man.

The NRCC accuses Cox of being a tax cheat.

Valadao’s campaign also links Cox’s alleged tax problems.

[activecampaign form=27]

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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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