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State Sen. Melissa Hurtado considering run for Congress against GOP incumbent David Valadao | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #sextrafficing

State Sen. Melissa Hurtado – who squeaked out a 13-vote win in her successful reelection last year – is “taking a serious look” at challenging Republican incumbent David Valadao in the 22nd Congressional District.

Reports of a potential run by the Bakersfield Democrat were reported by the San Joaquin Valley Sun on Sunday and picked up by the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Should Hurtado get into the race, she would also challenge former Assemblymember Rudy Salas, a Democrat who lost to Valadao by 3 percentage points last year in a district that favors Democrats by 17 points.

Salas announced a rematch against the five-term Republican whose only political setback was in 2018 against former Democratic Rep. TJ Cox.

The district is one that Democrats hope to flip in an effort to retake the House. The district covers Kings County and parts of Kern and Tulare counties and is heavily Latino. President Joe Biden carried the district by 13 points.

Hurtado, who did not respond to an interview request beyond her text message on Monday, was forced to seek reelection in the 16th state Senate District after fellow Democratic colleague Anna Caballero also sought reelection in a redistricted 14th District that included Hurtado’s residence in Sanger.

Hurtado moved to Bakersfield and spent $6.8 million in her 2022 reelection bid. Porterville rancher David Shepard spent $1.3 million and led the incumbent in the vote count until Hurtado took the lead for good when the votes were certified in December, but a recount continued until mid-January when Shepard conceded.

The National Republican Congressional Committee criticized Hurtado’s potential candidacy in a press statement sent Monday.

“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,” said committee spokesperson Ben Petersen.

He said Hurtado has supported a gas tax, attacked public safety and opposed securing water for the Valley.

“A brutal Melissa Hurtado-Rudy Salas primary battle will test which of these self-serving candidates is more desperate for a taxpayer-funded salary,” said Petersen.

Should Hurtado run but fail, she would still hold onto her state Senate seat because that term expires in 2026.

Hurtado, then a member of the Sanger City Council, shocked Republican incumbent Andy Vidak in 2018 to win a state Senate seat. Since then, she has developed close ties to the Biden administration, having walked precincts in the midwest in 2020 and serving on Biden’s National Latino Leadership Committee in 2020.

The 2024 primary will be held March 5.

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