vidak and grove

Andy Vidak and Shannon Grove

Andy Vidak for 14th State Senate District

Hanford cherry farmer Andy Vidak is another one of those registration-deficit anomalies: Democrats significantly outnumber Republicans in his Latino-heavy 14th State Senate District, but you wouldn't know it by his three past electoral results.

He defeated Latino Democratic candidates in 2013 and 2014, and he brought home 54 percent of the vote in the "top two" June primary against three Latino Democrats. Runner-up Melissa Hurtado, a Sanger City Councilwoman, captured 23 percent. She is Vidak's opponent this fall.

There are at least two explanations for the fact that Vidak's district - which covers portions of Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Kern counties, including the cities of Arvin, Delano, McFarland, Shafter, Wasco and a substantial portion of Bakersfield - keeps sending him back to Sacramento despite its 71 percent Latino makeup and 20 percent registration advantage for Democrats. And both may be correct.

One, for various reasons, Latinos don't vote with the same enthusiasm as non-Latinos. And, two, Vidak must be doing something right.

He supports many of the things that are important to the economic health of his heavily agricultural district— construction of the Temperance Flat dam, safe drinking water and better career education programs.

Hurtado's priorities are good ones. She stands against cuts to community health clinics and has fought to prevent  defunding of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. She worked on the passage of SB 17, seeking transparency in the pharmaceutical industry.

But Vidak's experience and broader handle on the district's economic and regulatory imperatives make him the right choice.

The Californian endorses Andy Vidak for 14th state Senate seat.

Shannon Grove for 16th State Senate District

Jean Fuller's term-limits-dictated retirement puts the 16th state Senate District up for grabs. Shannon Grove, who termed out of the Assembly two years ago, has been the heir apparent since 2016.

If history is our guide, she is a shoo-in. She won her Assembly race (first the 32nd, then, after redistricting, the 34th) all three times by at least two-thirds of the vote, and she won 59 percent of the vote in the state senate primary against her two opponents in June.

Democrat Ruth Musser-Lopez of Needles, Grove's general-election opponent, calls some of Grove's more extreme views evidence that she is a "whack-a-doodle," but the truth is, Grove's thinking is largely in line with her local Republican constituency. 

It's difficult to know where Musser-Lopez fits in that equation because she lives at the far eastern edge of the largest state senate district in California — a vast stretch of mostly desert with its population center — Bakersfield — at the far western border.

She is as far removed geographically as she is philosophically. 

That's not to say she is wrong about such priorities as addressing the district's physician shortage.

But Grove is better known and better positioned to use her familiarity to bring 16th District's concerns to Sacramento: Concerns like the navigation of governmental red tape and PAGA, the Private Attorney General Act, which she says opens the door to frivolous litigation that can cost companies across the state. 

The Californian recommends that voters select Shannon Grove for 16th Senate District seat.