Former President Donald Trump hasn’t endorsed a challenger against Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif., but the congressman could still be facing a tough primary fight next week in a race that’s seen a spike in ad spending and some Democratic meddling.
Valadao was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach the former president after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. Even though Trump hasn’t weighed in on the race in the 22nd District, Valadao has drawn two challengers from his right: former Fresno City Councilman Chris Mathys and King County School Board Member Adam Medeiros.
The pair of Republicans haven’t spent significant money against the congressman, but a GOP super PAC’s last-minute advertising buy could be a sign that Valadao needs some help securing one of the top two primary spots. In California, candidates from all parties run on the same primary ballot, and the top two vote-getters advance to the general election.
The Congressional Leadership Fund launched a new TV ad Friday going after Mathys, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in New Mexico in 2020, labeling him as a “liberal” who is “soft on crime.” The group reserved $248,000 in airtime on Thursday, per the ad tracking firm AdImpact.
The ad follows a spot from CLF’s Democratic counterpart, House Majority PAC, which launched a TV ad drawing a contrast between Mathys and Valadao, and highlighting Valadao’s impeachment vote, according to the San Joaquin Valley Sun. A digital version of the ad is also running on Facebook.
Both parties have been known to meddle in California primaries, working to undercut their opponents' favored candidates in the hopes of boosting their own chances in the general election.
Republicans widely view Valadao as their best shot to hold onto the Central Valley district, which Biden would have won by 13 percentage points in 2020 had the new lines been in place, per CQ Roll Call.
House Majority PAC has also aired ads boosting Assemblyman Rudy Salas in the race, who Democrats consider a top recruit. The Cook Political Report rates the race a Toss Up.