Congressional candidate Mike Boudreaux is pushing back against radio ads that claim he is soft on border policy.
The Republican sheriff of Tulare County participated in a forum Wednesday morning, hosted by the Cen-Cal Business Finance Group and moderated by Tal Cloud.
Radio ads by Assemblymember Vince Fong say Boudreaux supports Obama’s immigration plan.
“You’ve got a really cute commercial floating around right now about me. I’ll tell you right now, I am not about open borders,” Boudreaux said. “I received the endorsement of the majority of law enforcement in the Central Valley. If I was for open and unsecured borders, I would not be receiving the endorsements of public safety.”
Boudreaux, R-Springville, touted his law enforcement credentials, calling public safety the top issue.
Casino owner Kyle Kirkland and sports card shop owner David Giglio also participated in the 40-minute forum at Pardini’s in Fresno. Fong, R-Bakersfield, was invited but did not attend.
They are four of 11 candidates running for the 20th Congressional District, a vacant seat last held by former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy. The district includes parts of Kern, Fresno, Tulare, and Kings counties.
Kirkland, R-Clovis, called himself “the businessman in the group.” He operates Club One Casino in Fresno and is also a member of the Fresno Chaffee Zoo board.
Giglio, R-Madera County, called himself “a disrupter.” He has criticized other Republicans, billing himself as the only “America First Republican.”
Watch the Full Forum
Fong Leads in the Latest Poll
A poll released Tuesday by Emerson College Polling found most voters undecided in the race at 35%.
Among the candidates, Fong leads with 27%, with Boudreaux next at 11%. Just behind is Marisa Wood, D-Bakersfield. Kirkland garnered 8% and Giglio 2% among the 11 candidates.
The top two vote earners, regardless of party, will advance to the general election.
The poll, conducted Jan. 26-29 with a sample of 565 likely voters, has an accuracy margin of plus or minus 4.1%. The full results are here.
Similar Views on the Issues
Not much distinguished the three candidates speaking Wednesday. All supported policies to help small businesses.
Giglio (pronounced JEEL-ee-oh) called small businesses his top priority. He operates Cali Cards and More in Clovis.
Boudreaux says small businesses are “overregulated, overtaxed, and it’s impacting the bottom line of every business in the Valley and quite frankly, all across the country.”
Kirkland said new regulations “chokes you off in terms of your ability to hire” and operate. He supports small businesses being protected through the Small Business Administration.
All three rejected any form of amnesty for illegal immigrants.
“If you don’t have a border, you don’t have a country. And I think I probably aligned mostly with former President Trump on this and the fact that we need to close the border,” Giglio said.
Boudreaux talked about criminals he’s dealt with as a result of illegal border crossings. One of his solutions to dissuade illegal crossings is to “quit giving away free stuff and they won’t be coming to our country.”
Kirkland, though, said it would be hard to deport up to 11 million illegal immigrants. Boudreaux also said he did not want to deport all illegal immigrants.
All candidates called President Joe Biden a weak leader, especially on security. They also praised former President Donald Trump
Boudreaux said he’s toured the border with Trump. All three said Trump understands water and other economic issues.
What About Fong?
Fong’s status for the general election primary is still in doubt.
Although his name will appear, California Secretary of State Shirley Weber is challenging his eligibility to run. Fong also filed to run for Assembly re-election. California election law has generally been interpreted that a candidate can only run for one office per election.
Fong sued, and a lower court ruled in his favor. Weber appealed the judgment to a state appellate court. That decision is likely to happen after voters decide on March 5.
The three candidates Wednesday criticized Fong.
“I’m a law and order guy,” Boudreaux said. “There’s no one up here that misunderstood the rules … if you circumvent those rules, then you disenfranchise the voter.”
“Clearly, the three folks up here know how to read and follow directions,” Kirkland said.
Giglio once threatened to sue to keep Fong off the ballot.
“People at the top would kind of believe the rules don’t apply to them. They want all of us to follow the rules, but when they want to do something, there’s like I’m going to do it anyway and I’m going to go to court and I’m going to get it done because I’m Vince Fong, Kevin McCarthy’s best buddy, and I should be allowed to do whatever I want,” Giglio said.
Election Dates March 5, March 19
Voters in the district will vote twice in a two-week period. The regular primary — for the term that starts Jan. 3, 2025, and runs two years — is March 5. The top two vote earners, regardless of party and special election results, will advance to the Nov. 5 general election.
McCarthy’s Dec. 31, 2023, resignation also necessitated a special election, which will be held March 19. Most of the same candidates running for the full-term seat are also running in the special election primary. If a candidate wins a majority of the vote, he or she will be sworn in shortly thereafter to finish the term ending Jan. 3, 2025.
Regardless of Fong’s regular election status, he is eligible to run in the special election.
If no candidate wins a majority, the top two advance to a May 21 runoff.
These are the candidates on the March 5 ballot:
- Assemblyman Vince Fong, R-Bakersfield
- Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux, R-Springville
- Club One Casino owner Kyle Kirkland, R-Clovis
- Veteran Navy combat pilot and current businessman Matt Stoll, R-Visalia
- Businessman David Giglio, R-Madera
- California City Mayor Kelly Kulikoff, R-California City
- Businessman Stan Ellis, R-Bakersfield
- Educator and 2022 candidate Marisa Wood, D-Bakersfield
- Security guard Andy Morales, D-Fresno
- Businessman T.J. Esposito, no party preference-Bakersfield
- Eastern Kern APCD variance board member Ben Dewell, no party preference-Tehachapi