The Democratic establishment is ‘pulling out all the stops’ for this California candidate

SACRAMENTO, California — Democrats in Washington have funneled more than $100,000 to a Central Valley candidate challenging GOP Rep. David Valadao to avoid getting locked out of one of their best pickup opportunities in the nation.

The institutional giving underscores the national party’s unusually early involvement in the race — choosing to boost former state lawmaker Rudy Salas over fellow Democrat Melissa Hurtado even as it sits out other competitive primaries.

A POLITICO analysis of campaign filings show Salas has received $15,000 from 10 members of Congress, including Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi as well as House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.). He also received $40,000 from major Democratic PACs, including California Leadership United For Victory, which is associated with Aguilar.

In addition to members and leadership PACs, Aguilar’s CA House Majority Fund PAC has helped Salas raise nearly $50,000 this primary season.

“We’re pleased to see Democrats taking action,” said Salas campaign manager Kyle Buda. “And we’re thankful for the outpouring of support that we’ve received.”

With California’s jungle primary system, where the top two candidates regardless of party will advance after Super Tuesday, Hurtado’s presence on the ballot means she could siphon enough votes from Salas in the Republican-leaning primary to land him in third place after Valadao and his Republican challenger.

That has prompted the massive, last-minute mobilization from national Democrats, who in addition to pouring money into Salas’ coffers, have spent more than $2 million on advertising to boost his campaign.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee first intervened in January with more than $840,000 worth of joint ad spending with Salas’ campaign. The House Majority PAC has also spent more than $1.2 million on ads for Salas, hoping to send a “strong and clear message” that the party is committed to reclaiming the majority in November.

“Democrats are pulling out all the stops to support Rudy Salas — the best candidate to represent Central Valley families — and to provide all the resources he needs to unseat David Valadao,” said Dan Gottlieb, spokesperson for the DCCC.

Republicans, meanwhile, are trying to fend off their own lockout scenario.

Valadao, one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump, faces a challenge on the right from Chris Mathys, a self-described “MAGA Republican.” GOP groups, including the Congressional Leadership Fund, have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars amplifying Valadao’s conservative bonafides on the airwaves — highlighting his support for law enforcement and his border policies.

Republican members of Congress, their leadership PACs and other affiliated committees have sent Valadao more than $400,000 since the start of 2023, according to POLITICO’s analysis.

“Almost no one in Congress better reflects and represents his constituents than Rep. Valadao,” said Dan Conston, president of CLF. “That’s why he has won tough race after tough race, and we’ll do whatever it takes to help him win again.”

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