Former GOP Rep. Valadao launches comeback bid in California

Republican lost to Democrat TJ Cox in one of the closest elections of 2018

Former California Rep. David Valadao is running for the House again after narrowly losing in 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

California Republican David Valadao is looking for a congressional comeback against Democratic Rep. TJ Cox, who narrowly ousted him in last year’s midterms.

Valadao was one of seven GOP lawmakers in the Golden State who lost reelection in 2018. His race in the Central Valley-based 21st District was one of the closest in the country, with Cox winning by 862 votes, or less than 1 percentage point.

Valadao’s announcement Wednesday was expected since he filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission last month. 

“The Central Valley needs a strong voice they can trust representing them in Congress — someone who listens and understands that Central Valley residents just want an opportunity to provide and build a better life for their families,” the former congressman said in a Facebook post.

Cox has faced negative headlines recently for inaccurate financial disclosures and revelations by The Sacramento Bee that he took two years to pay former employees overdue wages. The freshman Democrat told earlier this month that questions surrounding his financial disclosure are “standard Washington games … trying to paint me as something that everyone knows I’m not.”

Valadao has also faced his own set of financial woes. A bank seized a daily farm owned by him and his family over a failure to pay more than $8 million in loans. Valadao and his wife filed for bankruptcy protection for their dairy and cattle businesses earlier this year. 

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the 21st District race Likely Democratic. Hillary Clinton carried the district by 16 points in 2016.

Valadao isn’t the only former GOP lawmaker looking for a comeback. Former Reps. David Young of Iowa and Karen Handel of Georgia are both running in their old districts, and Jason Lewis of Minnesota recently launched a Senate campaign.

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