Former GOP state lawmaker leads early returns in race for Devin Nunes’ old House seat

Conway is the best known of the six contenders vying to replace Nunes, a close ally of former President Donald Trump who announced late last year that he was leaving Congress to head Trump’s Media and Technology Group. Nunes resigned in January, vacating his seat in California’s congressional district that covers much of Fresno and Tulare counties.

Conway represented many of the region’s voters as a former Tulare County Supervisor and former minority leader in the state Assembly. She had cast herself as a strong Trump supporter who was best suited to fill the remaining months of Nunes’ term because of her relationships with lawmakers in California and Washington.

The vacancy created an unusual situation because the winner who fills Nunes’s job is likely to only serve a few months in Congress. The district, which covers parts of Fresno and Tulare counties, was cut into pieces by California’s nonpartisan redistricting commission when they created the state’s new congressional maps. Under the new lines, much of Nunes’s old district will become part of the new 21st District, anchored by Fresno, where veteran Democratic Rep. Jim Costa is the favorite in what is considered a safe seat for his party.

In part because of the brevity of the assignment, the primary race to replace Nunes between four Republicans and two Democrats was an enjoyable one, focusing largely on local issues like drought and the struggle to get more water to Central Valley farmers.

The main divide among the candidates was between those who said they were only focused on Nunes’s seat and those who were simultaneously seeking another congressional seat for the term beginning in 2023.

Conway argued that voters should support her because she would play a “caretaker” role and not use the office as a “stepping stone” to another congressional office, and promised to focus on the district’s unfinished work, including helping constituents fix problems. such as delays in passports and Social Security. Benefits

Three of the candidates, Republicans Matt Stoll and Michael Maher and Democrat Eric Garcia, also seek to represent the new 21st District, where they will face Costa for a normal two-year term beginning in 2023.

Under California rules, if no candidate receives a majority of the vote (50% plus 1) in the special election, the top two finishers, regardless of party, proceed to a runoff on June 7. That will be the same day that California holds its state primary elections. A runoff could lead to confusion, because the names of one or more of the special election candidates could appear twice on the June ballot if they are running for a second office.

Stoll, a retired Navy fighter pilot, hoped to generate name recognition in the special election to use as “a springboard” for the race in the 21st District as he seeks to “reverse every aspect of the progressive agenda and what Joe Biden It represents.”

Garcia, a Marine Corps veteran, planned to focus on a single piece of legislation to help struggling Valley families during the remaining months of Nunes’ term: reinstating the enhanced monthly child tax credit that ended in 2021 after that the Democrats’ efforts to extend it collapsed. . In his run for the 21st Congressional District, he focuses on long-standing problems with air pollution and water pollution in the Central Valley, calling himself a voice for those “left behind.” .

Lourin Hubbard, who like Conway is not seeking another congressional seat, has championed progressive policies that go far beyond even what Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders proposed as a presidential candidate.

Hubbard, manager of the state water resources control board, told CNN that he favors eliminating all federal taxes on overtime to help low- and middle-income families. He supports canceling student loan debt, favors free community college, and would also like to see a “debt-free public college” where the state and federal government pay for public four-year colleges. He also wants the federal government to guarantee every person in America a union job that pays at least $20 an hour.

Republican tech executive Elizabeth Heng cast herself as the vanguard of a new generation of Republican leaders who would seek to be a “leading voice” to “resolve our immigration policy once and for all” as the daughter of refugees who escaped from the Khmer Rouge.

Maher, a Navy veteran and former FBI agent, had said he hoped to foster a less polarizing conversation about immigration. He said he would work on legislation to “create a clear path for people to come in and work and get back home.” Although he had not committed to a specific plan, Maher said he was working with the Latino community in the Central Valley, as well as business owners and farmers, to determine the best solution based on the region’s labor needs.

In the most recent breakdown of party registration available from the state, nearly 39% of voters in the current 22nd District were registered as Republicans, 34% as Democrats, and 20% as “no party preference.”

Heng led the field in fundraising, according to the latest filings with the Federal Election Commission, after raising $214,900, followed by Garcia with $205,715.

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