BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — We are less than two weeks from the 2022 midterm primary election here in California, and it’s been another politically-packed week. Here is a rundown of Kern County’s political headlines this week.
On Tuesday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) kicked off his week with a tour of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base before joining the Ohio Attorney General to talk about the southern border and the fentanyl crisis, pushing for stronger border policies.
“Just as I was driving up from Dayton, news broke that they just arrested an individual with ISIS ties from Ohio who was trying to get people in through the border from ISIS to kill President Bush,” McCarthy said. “Because they know how to come into America.”
Later that day came the shooting at an elementary school in Texas, re-igniting the decades-old, highly partisan political battle over gun control and Second Amendment rights. On Thursday, while giving merit awards to Kern and Tulare students, McCarthy gave reporters his take on how Congress should respond.
“I think what we really need to do and we had a bill in congress just a couple years ago with Sheriff Rutherford, stop the violence in school where we provided a great amount of money for schools to go in and fortify, make sure there is one entrance in and others,” he said.
Kern’s other Congressman, David Valadao (R-Hanford), was in Bakersfield today. The Hanford Republican visited small businesses to discuss inflation, supply chain issues and labor shortages.
Turning to the California Capitol, it was a busy legislative week in Sacramento.
A group of lawmakers, including Bakersfield Assemblyman Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield), sent a letter to the Speaker of the Assembly to move a bill suspending the state’s gas tax to the floor for a vote.
The bill co-authored by Kern Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) would halt California’s 51 cent gas tax for a year amid soaring prices at the pump.
Bakersfield Assemblyman Rudy Salas said he voted in favor of forcing the bill to the Assembly floor, as did Fong. The effort failed.
Meanwhile, the Senate passed a bill empowering private citizens to sue makers and sellers of ghost guns and illegal weapons.
Hurtado was the only Democrat in the Senate to vote against the measure, which passed and now heads to the Assembly.
Rounding things out on the campaign trail, the California Republican Assembly came to Bakersfield this week to drum up support for candidates as they hit the final stretches of their primary campaigns.
“They know how influential Kern County and Bakersfield is and how important it is to their campaigns,” CRA President Johnnie Morgan said.
The CRA hosted the event with the Taft and Greater Bakersfield Republican Assembly.
“The Greater Bakersfield Republican Assembly is a grassroots organization,” GBRA President Greg Perrone said. “We believe that all politics are local.”
The night featured speeches from endorsed candidates, including Mark McKenzie for Kern Auditor-Controller County Clerk, Brian Smith for 3rd district Supervisor and Laura Avila for Assessor-Recorder.
“[Some] Candidates that obviously people are not be familiar with so hopefully tonight will help answer some of their questions they might have,” Taft Republican Assembly President Vince Maiocco said.
The group’s endorsements was a rift from Kern Republican activist and consultant Cathy Abernathy, whose list of preferred candidates includes Jeff Flores for 3rd district Supervisor and Todd Reeves over Laura Avila for Assessor-Recorder.
The Assessor-Recorder typically has been an inconspicuous position, garnering little attention.
This campaign season, the race has brought some heat, with the candidates questioning one another’s campaign finance practices and party affiliation.
17 News is hosting a debate between Avila and Reeves for Kern’s Assessor-Recorder position on Wednesday at 7pm on TV-17.