David Valadao, California Republican who voted to impeach Trump, wins US House seat

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Republican United States Representative David Valadao defeated Democrat Rudy Salas in a Central Valley district, overcoming a strong Democratic registration advantage and the fallout from his vote to impeach the president of the era, Donald Trump.

With 98% of the ballots counted on Monday night, Valadao won around 52% of the vote against 48% for Salas, with a margin of around 3,400 votes.

Valadao was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 Capitol uprising. He is one of only two of those 10 to be re-elected, along with Republican Rep. Dan Newhouse of Washington. Others retired or were defeated by major Trump-endorsed challengers.

Democrats hold a staggering 17-point record advantage in the 22nd District of the state’s agricultural belt. But Valadao, who has never been a Trump loyalist, has already demonstrated a bipartisan streak to win in left-leaning districts. He held his seat from 2013 until January 2019, lost it for one term, then won it back in a 2020 rematch with Democrat TJ Cox.

Salas, a state deputy considered moderate, has dueled with Valadao over gas taxes, the opioid overdose crisis and health care.

Previously, Republicans had regained control of the House. With Valadao’s victory, the Republicans will hold 219 seats next year, the Democrats 212. The count is not yet over in a handful of other undecided races.

Trump never made a significant commitment to the race and Valadao, a dairy farmer and son of Portuguese immigrants, had the endorsement of the state’s GOP and the backing of House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is close to the former president.

Valadao did not support then-candidate Trump in 2016, but then backed his re-election four years later.

However, Valadao would occasionally break with the Trump White House, including criticizing the administration for family separations at the border. He introduced himself in 2020 as an “independent problem solver” and in an ad highlighted his work with former President Barack Obama on critical water issues for the region.

He called Trump the driving force behind the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. Trump’s “inciting rhetoric was un-American, abhorrent and absolutely an inscrutable offense,” Valadao said.

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