To understand why David Valadao became the only Republican in California — and one of 10 in the House of Representatives — to vote in favor of impeaching President Trump this week, look no further than the shade of the dairy farmer’s sprawling Central Valley district: It’s gone purple.
Nestled among the deep red Republican strongholds represented by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and ardent Trump supporter Devin Nunes is Valadao’s district, that has swung from Republican to Democrat and back to Republican again in the last three elections. That also might explain Valadao’s pivot from not endorsing Trump in 2016 to backing the president’s re-election bid in November to his eyebrow raising vote Wednesday to impeach Trump for inciting the violent mob that stormed the Capitol complex last week.
Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
“There was definitely a political calculation.” said Nicole Parra, a Central Valley Democrat who has already announced her candidacy to take on Valadao in 2022. “I bet they said, ‘Parra’s coming.’”
Valadao’s vote raised the ire of Republicans in Fresno County but it wasn’t generating much public debate in Hanford, including at the Sanchez Feed and Seed supply store, where a member of the Sanchez family told this news organization that while workers have their own opinions, they won’t be sharing them out of respect for customers with different views. In a district where political views are mixed and arguments heated, few people want to risk alienating someone they might rely on in the future.
Central Valley political observers say the congressman most certainly had the blessing of McCarthy, who is well aware of the balancing act Republicans must play to keep the District 21 seat, which covers farming country in Kings County and parts of Fresno, Kern and Tulare counties. The moderate GOPer, political analysts say, was doing his best not to alienate voters in one of the nation’s most competitive congressional districts.
“Kevin needs Valadao to be safe,” said Mark Martinez, a political science professor at Cal State Bakersfield. “He’s covering his flank.”
Even as Valadao, who contracted COVID-19 in January and missed his swearing-in ceremony, accused Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a San Francisco Democrat, of creating a “rushed political stunt” out of what should be a “thorough investigation,” he said his conscience demanded he vote in favor of impeachment.
Trump’s “inciting rhetoric was un-American, abhorrent, and absolutely an impeachable offense,” the congressman said on Twitter. “It’s time to put country over politics.”
Martinez thinks the impeachment vote, paired with the stunt comment, is Valadao’s latest attempt to appeal to liberals and moderates without turning off too many conservatives, who aren’t likely to ditch him anyway, because he generally votes their way.
It’s “politically shrewd,” he said.
Valadao’s office did not respond to an interview request or answer its phone to say how many constituents were calling in to slam the congressman — or slap him on the back — for his vote..
Valadao, 43, was born and raised in Hanford, a cluster of dairy and cattle farms about 30 …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment