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Alex Horvath / The Californian

Andy Vidak is a Republican who is running for the 16th Senate District seat.

Andy Vidak, a Hanford farmer and former contender for a Congressional seat, said over the weekend that he will run for the 16th state Senate District post just vacated by Democrat Michael Rubio.

"Running for Senate!" Vidak, a Republican, posted on his Facebook page Sunday.

"Things are going very well," Vidak told The Californian Monday. "I'm getting a tremendous response. My donors are really responding to me well. ... We're moving forward."

Vidak said he hasn't hired a political consultant yet and is focused, for now, on raising money for his run.

"It's not going to be an easy battle. This is a tough district," Vidak said. But his unsuccessful bid in 2010 to unseat Democratic Congressman Jim Costa has schooled him, Vidak said.

"I've been through a tough one before, so I'm a little smarter this time," he said.

The district leans Democratic. According to statistics for the district's 2010 boundaries, which will apply in this special election, about 51 percent of voters in the district were registered as Democrats, compared with 32 percent for Republicans.

"I wouldn't call it an advantage for me," Vidak said. "But last time I did very well getting a lot of people to cross over and vote for me."

Former Assembly candidate Pedro Rios also had been suggested as a potential GOP candidate. But Rios told The Californian last week that if Vidak ran for the seat, he would sit out the race.

"I'm going to support Andy," Rios said Monday. "I'm not going to jump in and battle it out with Andy at all."

"He did really good in 2010, and it took him into areas of Fresno and it took him close to beating an incumbent," he added. "So I think the possibilities of him winning in this special election are very high. He's pretty much known in the entire Senate district because of his run against Jim Costa."

Other names that have arisen as potential Republican candidates are Bakersfield City Councilman Russell Johnson and Connie Conway, the Assembly minority leader. Johnson didn't return a call Monday afternoon seeking comment. A representative for Conway also didn't return a call Monday afternoon.

On the Democratic side, former Hanford Joint Union High School District Trustee Alfred Benavides said he'll run. Also mulling a run are Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez and Kings County Supervisor Richard Valle.

Other Democratic names that have been floated are new Assemblyman and former Bakersfield City Councilman Rudy Salas, Shafter Councilwoman Fran Florez and Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea.

Gov. Jerry Brown has set the special primary election for May 21 and the special general election for July 23.