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Hurtado ‘Taking a Look’ at Congressional Run vs. Valadao



Melissa Hurtado (left) has intentions to join Rep. David Valadao (center) and Rudy Salas in the 22nd District congressional race. (GV Wire/David Rodriguez)
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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 Cook Political Report ranks the district as leaning Republican; Sabato’s Crystal Ball calls it a toss-up.

The primary is March 5, 2024. The top-two votegetters will advance to the November general election.

Map showing the 22nd Congressional District and 16th state Senate District. (GV Wire/David Rodriguez)

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.

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