BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — With California’s congressional boundary lines now solidified, attention turns to the 2022 midterm races. There are significant changes to districts in the Central Valley that could alter who is sent to Washington in November.
One of the largest drivers of the changes is the Voting Rights Act, a federal law that means there must be a certain number of districts that have more than a 50% minority population. Of the three districts encompassing and surrounding Kern, two have a Latino majority and one is majority white.
Let’s dive into the changes and candidates in each district.
The new 20th district
The new 20th district shares the most land with what is now House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R) district. It includes a large portion of Bakersfield but now stretches all the way up to the Fresno suburb of Clovis.
One significant feature to the district is an arm the that stretches above Hanford. This cements the Latino majorities in the two districts bordering the 20th. It does so by putting the voters in the arm area, who are majority white, into the already overwhelmingly white 20th district.
Republican Political Analyst Cathy Abernathy told us voters in this arm are more Republican. This, in effect, makes the 20th district even more red while taking Republicans out of the 22nd and 21st district and consequently making them more blue.
Turning to the candidates in the race thus far, Kevin McCarthy will most likely run in this district. With McCarthy’s high profile and the district’s Republican majority strengthened, it will be extremely hard for a Democrat to compete for this seat.
However three Democrats have declared for the race thus far:
Louis Gill (D): He has spent the last two decades working with non-profits addressing homelessness here in Bakersfield.
Bruno Amato (D): He is a Navy veteran and actor.
Marisa Wood (D): She has been in Kern for 35 years now and is a teacher at Fairfax Junior High School.
The new 22nd district
The new 22nd district shares the most land with what is currently David Valadao’s (R) district. This has been a very competitive race in recent years. Valadao lost the seat to Democrat TJ Cox in 2018 before winning it back in 2020 and it was one of only nine districts in the nation to vote for Joe Biden for president while also sending a Republican to congress in 2020.
Now, in part because of the stretch of land over Hanford added to the 20th district, it will be even harder for a Republican to win the 22nd. It is projected the people in this new 22nd district voted for Biden in 2020 by a 13% margin. However, it is worth noting that Valadao’s current district voted for Biden by a margin of 11% and still elected the Republican Valadao to congress.
Valadao has not yet confirmed if he will run in this district in 2022, however, it is the area that is most similar to his current district.
Here are the candidates that have declared their intent to run for the 22nd district:
Chris Mathys (R): He is a U.S. Army veteran and former Fresno councilman.
Rudy Salas (D): He is a former Bakersfield councilman and currently represents the Central Valley’s 32nd district in the State Assembly.
Nicole Parra (D): She represented the Central Valley, including Kern, in the state assembly from 2002 to 2008.
Bryan Osorio (D): He is the current mayor of Delano and a former Delano city councilman.
The new 21st district
The new Fresno-centered 21st district shares the most area with Devin Nunes’ current district. Redistricting has resulted in this boundary turning from deep red to leaning blue. Nunes announced he is retiring weeks ago, opening the area up to a fresh set of potential candidates.
Here are the candidates that have declared their intent to run for the 21st district:
Jim Costa (D): He is a former Bakersfield congressman and has been in Central Valley politics for over 40 years. He currently represents district 16 in congress.
Elizabeth Heng (R): She worked for former congressman Ed Royce and was Donald Trump’s director of inauguration ceremony staff.
Phil Arballo (D): He declared weeks ago but his team told us after the approval of the final maps he is now weighing his options. However, he recently indicated on Twitter he is still in the race.
The June 2022 primaries are now just six months away and candidates are gearing up for campaign season. More candidacy announcements, withdraws and changes are expected in the coming weeks.