FRESNO, California (KSEE) — Representative-elect David Valadao spoke with our station for an exclusive interview for the first time since he was declared the winner for the California 21st Congressional District seat.
The district represents Kern, Kings, Tulare, and Fresno County. Valadao previously held the seat from 2013-2019. Democrat TJ Cox unseated him in 2018 by the narrow margin of 862 votes.
“I am excited that I was able to be successful and I look forward to serving the community for the next two years and I am honored to have that responsibility but first off thank you to everyone for playing a role and voting and being involved in the political process,” said Valadao.
The AP called the race last week in favor of Valadao. He is now up around 1500 votes. It has not been certified by the state and Cox has not conceded but Valadao is in Washington D.C. for orientation.
It has been a complete 180 for the Hanford native. The AP called the race in his favor on elections night in 2018. He was up 5,000 votes. Then, uncounted mail-in ballots from across the district were tallied and he eventually lost to Cox on Nov. 28 by less than 1%.
This time around the script is flipped with him the victor. Valadao said Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of Ag Sonny Perdue, and many others have reached out to congratulate him.
“It is pretty cool,” said Valadao.” It is way better to get a call on winning than what I had to deal with two years ago.”
Valadao said he is already working on water, immigration, and agriculture legislation now that the election is over.
“So we are feeling good about it and yeah it was a long, long process,” said Valadao.
CA’s 21st District seat is one of the seven that was flipped blue back in 2018. Four of those seats flipped back to red this year.
The AP has called 430 of the 435 House of Representatives seats for the 2020 General Election. 222 for the Democrats and 208 for the Republicans. 5 races have not been called.
A party needs 218 seats for the majority.
Political Analyst Thomas Holyoke belies the 21st District will continue to be a focus for both parties in the future.
“I think republicans and democrats will raise money to try and revisit this fight another time,” said Holyoke. “I don’t know if it will be TJ Cox trying to take the seat back from Valadao but I imagine democrats will find someone to run competitively and bring in a lot of money.”
We reached out to Cox who did not get back to us. He previously said he would not make a comment until all votes were counted.