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Politics 101

Salas, Valadao Trade Gas Tax Charges as TV Ad War Launches

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New campaign ads offer conflicting information on Rudy Salas' gas tax vote. (GV Wire Composite/Jahz Tello)
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Expect thousands of TV ads in the David Valadao-Rudy Salas congressional campaign race. Both sides launched today.

Photo of GV Wire's David Taub

David Taub

Politics 101

Valadao, R-Hanford, is the incumbent congressman. Election analysts have called his Congressional District 22 race versus state Assemblyman Salas, D-Bakersfield, one of the tightest in the country.

Each side released a new television ad making opposing claims regarding Salas supporting the gas tax.

“In Sacramento, Salas voted with the radical environmentalist to increase the price of gas 73 cents a gallon,” Valadao’s spot says.

“I was the only Assembly Democrat to vote no on raising the gas tax,” Salas narrates in his own ad.  The text on the screen cites a Sacramento Bee headline that Salas was “stripped of committee chairmanship after voting against gas tax increase.”

Cook Political Report, FiveThirtyEight, and Sabato’s Crystal Ball — three leading election predictors — call the race a “toss-up.”

Who is Telling the Truth?

The truth? It depends on which California bill the campaign is referring to.

In 2017, Salas voted against SB 1 which increased the gas tax.

That same year, Salas voted for AB 398, an extension of the state’s “cap and trade” program. The Valadao camp cites a report from the state Legislative Analyst Office that cap and trade could raise gas tax prices by 73 cents.

Salas did lose his spot as chairman of the Assembly Business and Professions Committee in retaliation for his SB 1 vote.

“Rudy Salas was the only Democrat in the Assembly to vote against raising the gas tax and has continued to work to lower the cost of gas by voting to suspend the gas tax for a year,” Abby Olmstead, Salas’ campaign manager told GV Wire by email. “David Valadao opposed reducing the federal gas tax.”

The Salas campaign referred to a vote Valadao took in 2015.

Republicans have hounded Salas for missing votes to repeal the gas tax at least four times.

Whether Salas voted to suspend the gas tax on May 25, 2022, both sides have conflicting interpretations of the vote. When the motion to suspend the rules to force a vote came up on the floor, Salas did not vote at that time. He later added his vote, as allowed by Assembly rules. The motion eventually failed.

David Valadao (left) and Rudy Salas (right) are running in a “toss-up” congressional race. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)

Major TV Time Buys

Political ad buy data from the four major Fresno TV stations — KSEE-24, Fox 26, ABC 30, and CBS 47 — show each candidate purchasing more than 1,000 spots.

Valadao has booked nearly 2,000 ads across three stations for more than $760,000. He does not appear to be running ads on CBS 47.

Salas booked more than 1,600 spots for more than $824,000 across the four stations.

These figures do not include the Bakersfield market, nor radio or digital buys.

The National Republican Congressional Committee will spend $2.1  million in the Fresno TV market, according to ad tracking firm AdImpact. Data from the FCC files indicate more than 1,200 ads already booked.

The most expensive show to purchase an ad? NBC’s Sunday Night Football at $2,500 for 30 seconds. Expect to see Valadao during quarterly breaks.

Valadao-Salas Fresno TV Ad Buys

Station Candidate Estimated TV spots Estimated Amount
KSEE-24 (NBC) David Valadao 1,154 $120,505
KMPH-26 (Fox) David Valadao 1,022 $ 194,945
KFRE-30 (ABC) David Valadao 994 $ 451,000
KGPE-47 (CBS) David Valadao n/a n/a
KMPH-26 (Fox) NRCC for Valadao 88 $12,745
KGPE-47 (CBS) NRCC for Valadao 987 $ 114,990
KSEE-24 (NBC) NRCC for Valadao 81 $9,085
KFRE-30 (ABC) NRCC for Valadao 78 $32,175
KSEE-24 (NBC) Rudy Salas 390 $91,115
KMPH-26 (Fox) Rudy Salas 221 $113,085
KGPE-47 (CBS) Rudy Salas 414 $91,115
KFRE-30 (ABC) Rudy Salas 675 $503,150

Data from the FCC public files of the four major network-affiliated stations in the Fresno market. Does not factor the cut the agency placing ad takes.

Watch the New TV Ads


David Taub has spent most of his career in journalism behind the scenes working as a TV assignment editor and radio producer. For more than a decade, he has worked in the Fresno market with such stops at KSEE-24, KMJ and Power Talk 96.7. Taub also worked the production and support side of some of TV sports biggest events including the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals and NASCAR to name a few. Taub graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email