McCarthy and Valadao

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, left, and Rep. David Valadao

Kevin McCarthy for 23rd CD

Kevin McCarthy's plate is always full. Whether the House majority leader from Bakersfield is raising funds for congressional colleagues facing credible challenges, campaigning for the speakership post that Paul Ryan will vacate at the end of the year, or providing Republican talking points on the issues of the day, it's a nonstop life.

Seems to us McCarthy has another important item on his to-do list as well, though ...

Oh, yes. His own re-election. McCarthy's quest to become speaker of the House will be moot if he fails to defeat Democrat Tatiana Matta on Nov. 6.

However, the Democratic Party really doesn't have much of a chance. Not against McCarthy, at least. Although Dems have a candidate with potential in Matta, a 35-year-old resident of Edwards Air Force Base, they're not committed, if party campaign donations are any indication. Matta has been forced to go it largely alone. And against a formidable, entrenched, extremely well-financed incumbent like McCarthy, even in this so-called Year of the Woman, that won't cut it.

The knock against McCarthy, and the point Matta keeps trying to make, is that he is so focused on national politics and his role in congressional leadership, he shortchanges the needs of his 23rd Congressional District. 

But someone has to hold the leadership reins in Congress, and McCarthy has demonstrated that he has the political chops to be that someone. He may not be holding town hall meetings, another knock on his job performance back in Bakersfield, but he is trying to preserve a Republican majority in Congress that is far more likely to please voters in the deep-red 23rd District than would a flipped, Democratic-majority House.

McCarthy's constituents have consistently supported those broader goals. Some in agriculture may quietly gripe about President Trump's tariff war with China, which McCarthy supports. Some may quietly gripe about the president's immigration policies, which McCarthy supports. But despite the shrinking foreign markets and farm labor shortage those policies might have helped bring, growers agree enough with Trump's and McCarthy's other policy goals to remain in McCarthy's corner.

The Californian is in his corner, too. The opportunity to see a Bakersfield native ascend so close to the seat of ultimate power is just too great a potential source of pride and opportunity to deny.

Sometimes it seems like the Democratic Party must feel that way about it, too. Matta is informed, well spoken and telegenic. She is a bilingual Latina whose husband, a captain in the U.S. Air Force, is serving his country. She checks off all the right boxes. There's a future for her in governance if she chooses to pursue it. Just not the 23rd Congressional District at this time.

The Californian recommends that voters return Kevin McCarthy to Congress.

David Valadao for 21st CD

Republican David Valadao keeps winning in the strongly Democratic-majority 21st Congressional District, and there must be a reason why.

He walks the tightrope between support for President Trump's policies and occasional criticism, or telling silence. Most notable is Valadao's support for a prompt resolution of the long-deferred, still-unsettled Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and, in general, a coherent immigration policy.

It's his willingness to think outside that box and consider the realities of his district that makes Valadao a good fit for the 21st.

His opponent is a credible candidate. T.J. Cox of Fresno is a businessman who works in agriculture and affordable housing and he runs Central Valley New Markets Tax Credit LLC, a community development entity that matches public and private dollars to build health clinics and other facilities.

But he feels like the designated hitter in the Democratic Party's challenge to the GOP's House majority and to valley Republicans specifically, having shifted from the crowded field running against Rep. Jeff Denham in the 10th Congressional District to Valadao and the 21st. Cox doesn’t even live in the 21st, though he's just a few miles outside of it and district residency is not a requirement.

The bottom line here, though, is that Valadao has been competent, accessible, responsive and consistent, and 21st District voters like him. We do, too.

The Californian recommends that voters return David Valadao to Congress.