California's 21st congressional district is entirely in the San Joaquin Valley and one of the most productive agricultural districts in America. It includes all of Kings County and parts of Kern, Fresno and Tulare counties. About 75% of the residents are Latinos but that's significantly more than the percentage of registered voters. The district has been reliably Democratic in presidential elections-- Obama beat Romney 54.6% to 43.5%; Hillary beat Trump 55.2% to 39.7% and Biden beat Trump 54.4% to 43.5%. With a D+5 PVI, its congressional seat appears to be the most likely in the country to flip from red to blue. But David Valadao, a Republican who lost his seat to a dull corporate Democrat in 2018, won it back last year-- narrowly and in a sadly typical low turn-out situation-- 85,928 (50.4%) to 84,406 (49.6%).
So far, 3 Democrats have begun campaigns against Valadao, two barely Democrats at all, both arch-conservatives, not much better than Valadao, and the young progressive mayor of Delano, Bryan Osorio, who Blue America has endorsed today. I asked Bryan to introduce himself with a guest post and you will see that below. If you like it and would like to help his campaign, please consider contributing by clicking on the Blue America 2022 congressional thermometer just below. I want to say a few words about his two Democratic opponents. Keep in mind that California has a jungle primary, so Osorio will be running with 3 conservatives on the ballot: David Valadao (R), termed-out former Assemblywoman Nicole Parra (who just switched back to the Democratic Party to run) and Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D).
In her day, Parra was the worst Democrat in the Assembly, a dedicated and unrelenting servant of Big Oil and corporate interests in general. She was the chair of the so-called "Mod Caucus," although was significantly further right than many "mod" Republicans. She was the most hated Democrat in Sacramento at the time-- not by the GOP-- and voted against single payer, against getting dark money out of politics, against student protections and against legalizing hemp. She was the Democrat most likely to endorse Republicans running against other Democrats, including Meg Whitman for governor (against Jerry Brown), Carly Fiorina for U.S. Senate (against Barbara Boxer), Valadao when he was running for an Assembly seat and Danny Gilmore, a Republican running for her own Assembly seat, when she was termed out. She often threatened to join the GOP.
Rudy Salas is the Nicole Parra of today-- the worst Democrat in the state Assembly, voting with the GOP against the Green New Deal, for fracking and oil and gas drilling on public lands, for private prisons, against restrictions on local police departments acquiring military equipment to use against Californians, against abortion on college campuses, against the anti-debt gauging bill, and was the only Democrat to vote against the 2017 transportation infrastructure bill. Salas' current Courage Campaign score (an F) is 9 out of 100, the second worst score of any Democrat in the Assembly.
Fighting for the Central Valley
by Bryan Osorio
My name is Bryan Osorio, and I am the Mayor of the City of Delano, California. I’m running for Congress to represent the 21st District right here in California’s Central Valley.
I am the son of Mexican immigrants who moved to the Central Valley in search of a better life. I am the first in my family to graduate from high school and the first to graduate from college. This past week, I graduated from USC with a Master of Public Policy, while balancing two jobs. Ultimately, I believe I was granted all these privileges by the grace of the community that raised me. That’s why I first decided to run for city council back in 2018. That’s why I have decided to run for Congress.
Growing up in Delano, I have been constantly inspired by the legacy and activism in the Central Valley. Delano is commonly known for the historic organizing of farmworkers in the 1960s, with leaders like Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. Our community has a rich history that is upheld by hard-working people that make our communities so vibrant.
When I ran for City Council in 2018, at the age of 22, I ran a grassroots campaign that centered the needs of farmworkers, teachers, immigrants, seniors-- the backbone of our community. We won our campaign with the highest number of votes out of all the candidates, including two incumbents. Then, we immediately got to work.
As a City Council Member, and now as Mayor, I have led efforts declaring Delano a sanctuary city, advocated for utility bill assistance, and implemented COVID-19 protections. In June of 2020, I introduced a proclamation declaring our very first Pride Month in Delano’s History. During the pandemic, I successfully pushed for an eviction moratorium and a stop to late fees on utility bills. Since last April, I have recruited volunteers and volunteered myself at food and PPE distributions for our communities that have attracted endless lines of cars. I have been focusing on the needs of the people of the Central Valley.
I am running for Congress because the Central Valley deserves better than the absent leadership we have right now. We have been neglected time and time again as our air and water continue to deteriorate, our immigrant communities are constantly under attack, and many of us have been left uninsured in the middle of a pandemic. We need a representative that will fight for the people, not for corporations or profit.
I will fight for Medicare for All. I will fight for a Green New Deal. I will fight for humane immigration policies. I will fight for the Central Valley. I will fight for my community.
And, this fight will not be new to me. I’ve stood in solidarity with our Central Valley communities when it has not been popular. From opposing the expansion of detention centers in a community ten minutes away from Delano (I’m holding the “Stop Ripping Families Apart” sign) to publicly opposing the expansion of oil and gas permits in Kern County, I’ve shown courage when others have lacked it. I have even garnered a reputation for standing up to Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy, from protesting alongside environmental justice organizers at his house to marching alongside immigrant rights advocates to his office.
So, how do I plan to fight for the policies I support? With the help of the communities who have been advocating for these policies for years and who have been waiting for change. This will be a people-powered campaign, supported by a broad and diverse coalition of volunteers. Join us in our historic campaign for Congress as we fight for a country for all Americans, not just the few and powerful.
To learn more about my campaign, visit osorioforcongress.com.