The National Republican Congressional Committee released a poll from Harper Polling Thursday that indicates Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, has a sizeable lead in the closely watched 21st Congressional District race.

The bilingual telephone poll of 517 likely district voters showed Valadao with 45 percent of the vote. It also showed that Fresno businessman John Hernandez, whom Valadao soundly defeated in 2012 and has yet to file federal campaign finance reports reflecting any significant fundraising, is doing better than Amanda Renteria.

Renteria, a former U.S. Senate staffer who has raised $337,992 and enjoys the backing of the Democratic Party, had support from 13 percent of the voters while Hernandez had 25 percent.

Sixteen percent were undecided.

The congressional committee said the poll also revealed:

* Valadao's lead extends to both 21st District media markets, Bakersfield and Fresno, with him capturing no less than 43 percent in each.

* Among independent voters, Valadao led with 61 percent over Hernandez and Renteria, who received 21 percent and 8 percent support respectively.

* Among Democrats, which were 52 percent of the survey's sample, Hernandez led with 35 percent while Valadao and Renteria were tied at 22 percent.

* Valadao was helped by a 57 percent favorable to 19 percent unfavorable rating.

* Democratic voters had a 44 percent to 30 percent favorable image of Valadao while it was 48 percent to 19 percent positive among Hispanic voters.

The telephone poll, which had a margin of error of 4.31 percentage points, was conducted last week and did not contact voters by cell phone.

In Kern County, the 21st District includes Arvin, Lamont, parts of Bakersfield and such northwest communities as Delano, Wasco and Shafter.

Renteria spokeswoman Emily Nowlin released this statement about the poll to The Californian:

"It's a poll sponsored by the David Valadao National Republican Party that just pulled the plug -- and the Central Valley's hopes -- on immigration reform. So what else would we expect it to say? We're running a strong campaign against two men who've been on the ballot before, and we're very confident about our prospects."

She referred The Californian to a Huffington Post story saying two recent telephone polls on 2014 U.S. Senate races by Harper Polls showing Republicans with leads under-represented urban areas, skewing the results.

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