Melissa Hurtado says she is “taking a serious look” at running for congress, she tells GV Wire.
The two-term state senator representing the Central Valley is targeting a race with incumbent Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, and former state Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield.
Hurtado confirmed information published earlier, where her campaign manager Lisa Gasperoni said she is taking a look.
Hurtado, D-Bakersfield, won a hotly contested second term in Senate District 16 in 2022, defeating Porterville farmer David Shepard by 22 votes officially. Hurtado survived a recount attempt as well, where Shepard picked up a net nine votes, but not enough to overturn.
Gasperoni said Hurtado will check in with supporters and the Democratic Party at the local and national level. Congressional District 22 is being targeted by both Democrat and Republican fundraising committees.
Valadao, NRCC on the Attack
Valadao, through his campaign team, brushed aside Hurtado’s potential entry.
“Congressman Valadao remains focused on securing federal resources for Valley farmers and families impacted by flooding, stopping the flow of fentanyl into our communities, and lowering the skyrocketing price of energy bills. Central Valley families want results, not a never-ending campaign,” a Valadao campaign spokesperson said.
The National Republican Congressional Committee was quick to point out Hurtado’s faults, that would undoubtedly be campaign issues.
“After struggling to hold on in the last election by just 13 votes, Melissa Hurtado knows she can’t win again, so she’s putting her self-interest over the Central Valley. Hurtado supported jacking up the gas tax, attacked public safety and opposed securing the Valley’s water. A brutal Melissa Hurtado–Rudy Salas primary battle will test which of these self-serving candidates is more desperate for a taxpayer-funded salary,” NRCC spokesman Ben Petersen said.
Salas’s campaign did not respond to a request to comment.
Demographics Favor Democrats
Valadao was one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach then-President Donald Trump in January 2021. He is only one of the two (the other being Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Washington) who won re-election.
The registration map strongly favors Democrats. The latest registration report last February show Democrats with a 17% advantage (43%-26%). Nonetheless, Valadao has continually defied the odds. The district voted for President Joe Biden with 55% of the 2020 vote.
The primary is March 5, 2024. The top-two votegetters will advance to the November general election.
Salas Made it Official Last Week
Salas lost to Valadao in 2022, 51.5%-48.5%. He had previously filed to run in a 2024 rematch, and made the official announcement last week.
Valadao reported raising $1.2 million so far in the 2024 election cycle and has nearly $1 million cash on hand. Salas has more than $36,000 raised, but only $7,200 cash on hand.
Hurtado filed paperwork in May to run for a third state Senate term in 2026. She raised nearly $5 million in 2022 alone.
There is approximately 95% overlap between Congressional District 22 and state Senate District 16.
In the overlapping portions of the district in 2022, Hurtado earned 4% more votes than Salas, figures shared by Hurtado’s campaign showed.
The San Joaquin Valley Sun first reported about Hurtado possibly running for Congress.