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GOP Is Loving the Salas vs. Hurtado Dem Fight for Valadao's Seat
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 2 months ago on
February 15, 2024

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Congressional Democrat candidates Hurtado, Salas, and GOP all have something to say about latest political ad.

Republicans in the CD 22 race are also in a battle over an ad.

No Fresno City Council budget committee, Perea says.

Soria’s bill would exempt Sikhs from wearing motorcycle helmets.

Big leadership assignment for state Sen. Caballero.


It’s getting nasty between two Democrats vying to topple Rep. David Valadao, a Hanford Republican, in the March 5 primary.

Former Assemblymember Rudy Salas, supported by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and other third-party groups, recently aired a TV ad blasting fellow Democrat Melissa Hurtado, a state senator from Bakersfield.

Salas, D-Bakersfield, accused Hurtado of skipping nine votes, earning her a “Hostile to Reproductive Freedom” label and D grade from the abortion-rights group NARAL Pro-Choice California in 2022.

Hurtado seemingly improved her standing with the group, now called Reproductive Freedom for All, earning a “Reproductive Freedom Leaders” label and A- grade in 2023.

The group is backing Salas.

Hurtado fought back with a media statement.

“I have a long record as a reproductive healthcare advocate. I started my career as an organizer for Planned Parenthood Mar Monte working to provide access for patients in the Central Valley,” she said. “I am a proud co-author of Prop. 1 which enshrines the right to an abortion in the state constitution. Planned Parenthood gave me a 100% rating on their 2023 scorecard.  Leave it to a man like Rudy Salas to lie about my record — a woman’s record — on reproductive freedom. He should be ashamed.”

Enjoying the Dem-on-Dem attacks is the National Republican Congressional Committee. The group is more than happy to point out that Salas missed 430 votes during his time in the Legislature, and did not vote another 300 times.

“The audacity of Rudy Salas throwing stones for missed votes is the height of hypocrisy. Salas ought to pay back taxpayers the over $1 million he collected while refusing to do his job,” said NRCC spokesperson Ben Petersen.

Salas had greatly outraised Hurtado as of the last reporting deadline — nearly 8 to 1. Maybe Hurtado needs to call in a favor from President Joe Biden. Hurtado served on his national Latino Leadership Committee.

Valadao, Mathys in Ad Battle

The fourth candidate in the race, Chris Mathys, is miffed over an ad running against him and says he is planning litigation.

Congressional Leadership Fund — a Republican Super PAC — aired TV and radio spots and sent a mailer, accusing Mathys, R-Firebaugh, of being “soft on crime and dangerously liberal” during his time as a Fresno city councilman. Mathys represented Fresno’s northwest district from 1997 to 2001.

The ad called Mathys — who is running as a Trump-loving America First candidate to Valadao’s right — reckless, voting to cut gang-prevention funding, and “went to bat for a convicted rapist” for his alleged support of a man named Lonnie West.

Mathys on Thursday, said he would file a cease and desist order against Valadao and the CLF for “false claims and outright lies.” In a letter to CLF, he cited state defamation law.

“Mathys took decisive action to resolve a dangerous situation and provided safety and protection for families and children living in a residential neighborhood of Fresno by moving West into a group home in an industrial area away from homes and families,” a campaign news release said.

CLF said they published the ads independently of Valadao. A candidate and a third-party PAC are not supposed to have any coordination. Mathys claims otherwise.

“David Valadao is in direct communication with CLF, and he is directing and approving all correspondence,” a Mathys spokesperson alleged.

CLF denied the allegation.

“This is laughable and comically desperate. We do not coordinate with campaigns. Chris Mathys is clearly trying to hide from his wildly dangerous record. Why did Democrats spend big to try to make him the GOP nominee last cycle? Because his record is toxic, and he’s unelectable,” said CLF communications director Courtney Parella.

Could Mathys prevail? There is an ongoing case between Fresno City Councilman Mike Karbassi and Esmeralda Soria — dating back to when both ran for state Assembly in 2022. Karbassi accused Soria of defamation because of information in a mailer. An appeal court recently ruled in Karbassi’s favor, reinstating the case.

Perea: No City Budget Committee

The next city of Fresno budget will be discussed in the open.

City Council President Annalisa Perea told Politics 101 that there will be no budget committee this year. Discussions about the FY 2025 budget will take place during city council meetings in the open.

The committee — standard practice for the city council in recent years — drew scrutiny and a lawsuit for discussing budget matters behind closed doors. The full city council then meets about the budget, in open meetings, usually in June of each year.

The state’s open meeting law, the Brown Act, mandates that most public business take place in the open. One exception is if less than a quorum meet in a committee. Most city committees only have three of the seven members assigned, thus not having to legally comply.

But, the ACLU of Northern California called shenanigans on that interpretation and sued. There are also questions about whether the city council’s own rules require a budget committee to be open.

The ACLU, teaming with the First Amendment Coalition, is asking the Fresno County Superior Court to prevent the city from holding any future budget committee meetings in secret.

The lawsuit, filed last November, was assigned to Judge Robert Whalen, but no hearing date has been set.

Soria Bill Would Exempt Sikhs from Helmets

Citing religious freedom, a bill from Assemblymember Esmeralda Soria would exempt turban or patka (a smaller version of a Sikh turban) wearers from using a motorcycle helmet.

AB 2392 ensures we safeguard our Sikh community’s right to practice their religious expression freely, while also protecting their and other motorcyclists’ safety on California’s roads” Soria, D-Fresno, said in a news release.

The Sikh Council of Central California also supports the bill, according to a Soria news release.

The bill, introduced Monday, will be assigned to committee by March 14.

Caballero Wins Leadership Role

State Sen. Anna Caballero is benefiting from new Senate Pro Tem Mike McGuire.

The new leader, sworn in last week, appointed Caballero, D-Merced, as chair of the Appropriations Committee.

“During my time in the Senate representing a largely rural, agricultural area, I have worked to shine a light on the needs of working families. Good-paying jobs, affordable housing, and a quality education are part of every person’s California Dream. As the Chair of the Appropriations Committee it is my duty to evaluate hundreds of Senate and Assembly bills to ensure that California is investing resources where they are needed most,” Caballero said.

Politico reported that Caballero “helped deliver McGuire the votes he needed to become pro tem.”

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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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