BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Soon we’ll be counting the approach of the June 7 primary election not in terms of days so much as hours. And, as the day draws nearer, the TV advertising heats up. The tactics, especially in a primary election, are not always cut and dried. Strategy is often complicated by alliances of convenience.
That would seem to be the case with advertising for the 22nd Congressional District race pitting incumbent David Valadao against three challengers – fellow Republicans Chris Mathys and Adam Medeiros and one Democrat, Assemblyman Rudy Salas.
At this point it’s the Republicans that are going after each other, Valadao and Mathys in particular.
Throughout the campaign, Mathys has tried to align himself with former President Donald Trump, but an ad branding him as “dangerously liberal” is funded by a PAC with close ties to Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
The ad claims Mathys – then a Fresno city councilman – voted to deny funding to a gang intervention group.
But, in fact, Mathys simply voted along with 6 of 7 council members to establish or increase funding to three gang intervention charities and decrease funding to two other charities.
The ad also claims Mathys, quote, went to bat for a convicted rapist, arranging housing and health care – and the man later molested an underage girl. But, in fact, Mathys responded to the complaints of more than 100 of the man’s neighbors that he be relocated, contacting a nonprofit group that agreed to provide him with 24-hour care and counseling and – even though he was on neither probation nor parole – find housing for him outside of the city.
Valadao, in KGET’s studios Friday afternoon, said he had nothing to do with the PAC-funded ad – and can’t by law.
“I just saw it this morning,” he said. “But that is the Congressional Leadership Fund. I honestly have no input on those. I legally can’t even talk to them about that, though. I don’t know where they got that information.”
Valadao is persona non grata in some Republican circles because of his vote to impeach Trump – so why would McCarthy favor him over a candidate who sought, unsuccessfully, to have himself labeled a “Trump conservative” on the ballot? Because pundits say McCarthy, trying to restore a Republican majority in the House, sees Valadao as having a better chance to win in the Democratic-majority district. That’s also why Trump himself has gone after every other House Republican who voted to impeach – except Valadao.
Meanwhile, a PAC closely tied to Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House Speaker, is funding a pro-Mathys ad that calls Valadao an anti-Trump RINO – a Republican in Name Only.
Valadao said the House Democratic leadership is simply expressing which Republican they’d rather face in November – Mathys, and not the incumbent.
“The House Majority PAC, which is Nancy Pelosi’s Super PAC, has been in the district for a number of weeks now, spending money, propping up one of my Republican opponents. I think both sides agree that I’m the only Republican that can win this race and that’s why you’re seeing that.”
KGET asked Mathys how he felt about the vote of support from a PAC aligned with Pelosi, and he provided us with a statement:
“Our campaign has concluded the Majority PAC cannot trust or depend on Congressman Valadao,” the statement said in part. “I have not authorized any TV commercials or mailers sent out by the Majority PAC.”
The election is this Tuesday, June 7. Turn in to 17 News for complete coverage starting at 5 p.m.