Republican Valadao and Democrat Salas advance in California’s competitive 22nd district

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (AP) — Republican U.S. Rep. David Valadao and Democrat Rudy Salas will face each other in November in California’s 22nd congressional district, a rematch of last cycle’s close contest.

The district runs through California’s Central Valley farm belt, including parts of Bakersfield. It’s considered one of the most competitive U.S. House districts in the state, where a handful of tight races may be key to determining which party controls the chamber.

In 2022, Valadao beat Salas by less than 4,000 votes.

Democrats hold a 16-point advantage over Republicans in registered voters. But Valadao held the seat from 2013 until 2019, lost it for one term and then retook it in 2020. The borders of the district have changed slightly since Valadao was first elected due to redistricting.

Valadao and Salas beat out Republican Chris Mathys and Democrat Melissa Hurtado in the primary. California puts all candidates, regardless of party, on one primary ballot and the two candidates who get the most votes advance to the general election.

In the weeks leading up to the primary, Democrats had feared a possible lock-out in the general election if the party split its votes between Salas and Hurtado. The state Democratic Party and prominent leaders like California Gov. Gavin Newsom and former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had lined up behind Salas, a former state legislator. But Hurtado, currently a state senator, is also well known in the district.

“I’m truly grateful to the voters for standing with me in yet another critical election and thankful to all the volunteers who worked hard to get us here,” Salas said in a statement posted to X, formerly Twitter.

Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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