BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Just three weeks out from this year’s 2022 midterm primary election in California, the contest to take the 16th State Senate District continues to be one of the most contentious in the Central Valley, drawing social media feuds, big donations and a swath of endorsements.
“I think ultimately we will find it will be a very tight race,” Republican political analyst Cathy Abernathy said.
On the Democratic side, three candidates bring distinctly different approaches, shedding light on the party as a whole according to Democratic Analyst Neel Sannappa.
“A lot of the times people say this is a big-tent party. That the Democratic party is a big tent party,” Sannappa said. “But I think what you’re seeing is the old way of doing things — raising a lot of money, sending mail, versus a new way.”
After initially launching a bid for a district centered in Fresno, incumbent Melissa Hurtado looks to defend the 16th boundaries. She’s brought in almost $300,000 this election cycle and garners the support of many Democrats in Sacramento, including the sitting Pro Tempore of the California senate Toni Atkins.
On the other hand, Nicole Parra, is raking in local endorsements, including from the Greater Bakersfield Chamber Political Action Committee and a range of local law enforcement officers across the Valley.
Bryan Osorio, the 26-year-old progressive mayor of Delano has the backing of Dolores Huerta, one of the most influential names on the left.
“We’ve seen this on a national front as well — if you look at AOC vs. Crowley in New York,” Sannappa said. “If you look at all these up and coming young, progressive candidates that have been running in the Democratic party and winning.”
On the right, there are two Republicans hoping to take the seat: Bakersfield pastor Greg Tatum and Porterville farmer David Shepard.
Shepard has received endorsements from Kern’s most prominent names on the right, including Bakersfield Congressman Kevin McCarthy, Bakersfield State Senator Shannon Grove and Bakersfield Assemblyman Vince Fong.
Republican political analyst Abernathy acknowledged the uphill battle any Republican will face in this blue dominant seat, but believes Democrats in the Central Valley may vote with the GOP.
“San Joaquin Valley Democrats tend to understand the economy better than the costal people,” Abernathy said. “They understand we need water, we need to develop our oil resources so I believe there will be a strong vote for a conservative candidate.”