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UPDATED: Delano Mayor Bryan Osorio announces bid for Congress, will take on David Valadao

Delano Mayor Bryan Osorio has announced his bid to take on Rep. David Valadao to represent California’s 21st District in U.S. Congress.

First elected to the City Council in 2018 at the age of 22, Osorio is running as a Democrat on a platform of immigration reform, Medicare for all, and support for the Green New Deal. Now 25, if elected, he would be one of the youngest members of Congress.

“I’m going to push for policies that I don’t see others pushing for and I’m going to energize voters who haven’t been reached out to,” Osorio said in a phone interview with The Californian. “That’s going to be a central theme for this campaign, not just how do we advocate for marginalized and vulnerable communities, but how do we engage with them to make their voices heard.”

A graduate of UC-Berkeley, Osorio hopes to graduate with a master’s degree from the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy next week. He says running for national office has never been “part of the plan,” but seeing the needs of his community inspired him to run in the upcoming 2022 election.

“When I look at the issues I care about, which are health care, immigration and the environment, I think it takes a national perspective, a national policy to address them, especially on the issue of immigration,” he said.

David Valadao, R-Hanford, now occupies the 21st District seat. He was last elected in 2020 after losing his seat to Democrat TJ Cox in 2018. Both Republicans and Democrats view CA-21 as a crucial battleground for expanding their power in congress.

The razor-thin margins of victory have already drawn out several candidates.

Former Fresno City Councilman Chris Mathys, a Republican, and former state Assemblywoman Nicole Parra, a Democrat, have filed to run.

With the completion of the U.S. Census, congressional district boundaries will likely change, meaning the district could look slightly different in the upcoming election.

Cox, who has formed a political action committee to help register and turn out voters in the Central Valley, told KGET-17 in April he would make a decision on running after the lines had been redrawn.

Osorio, whose political agenda runs starkly counter to Kern County’s image as a conservative bastion, is relying on a potentially untapped vein of support in his bid for Congress. He says his platform has proven popular among his constituents and he pointed to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ victory in the 2020 Democratic primary as evidence.

In that election, Sanders received 22,840 votes in Kern County, 38.5 percent of the total. The next highest Democrat, Joe Biden, received 27.6 percent of the vote.

In comparison, Donald Trump, running on the Republican side, received 74,932 votes.

“When people see my name or hear about me, I just want them to think I’m another Central Valley resident,” Osorio said. “I grew up here, I went to public schools here. I went to college, came back, ran for City Council. I’m running for Congress to continue being a strong advocate for the issues that matter to the community.”

You can reach Sam Morgen at 661-395-7415. You may also follow him on Twitter @smorgenTBC.