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Central Californians head to the polls to fill Devin Nunes’ vacant congressional seat

Former California State Assembly leader Connie Conway will face off against Democrat Lourin Hubbard in a special election to determine who will represent California’s 22nd Congressional District.

(CN) — It will be a Donald Trump supporter and a Democrat who currently works for the California Department of Water Resources facing off to replace former Republican Congressman Devin Nunes in representing California’s 22nd Congressional District — a seat that will cease to exist due to redistricting come January.

As of Wednesday afternoon, former California Assembly leader Connie Conway, a Republican, led the second-place candidate, Democrat Lourin Hubbard by about 10,000 votes, 34.8% to 19.7%. The pair will meet again in the runoff election set for June 7.

Republican Matt Stoll has so far received 15.1% of the vote and Democrat Eric Garcia has garnered 15.0%. Republicans Michael Maher and Elizabeth Heng trail with 8.9% and 6.5% of the vote, respectively.

Facing a newly redrawn district map that would have left the former congressman fighting an uphill battle for reelection, Nunes instead chose to retire from the House at the end of 2021 to take the CEO job at former President Donald Trump’s new media company.

Because District 22 will disappear at the end of the year, whomever replaces Nunes will only be present in Congress for a few months. Governor Gavin Newsom scheduled the April 5 special election to fill Nunes’ vacant seat, which was expected to cost local taxpayers between $1.4 million and $1.6 million, according to the Fresno County Registrar of Voters.

District 22 has a population of 787,793 and is 49.3% Hispanic. The median household income is just over $62,000 per year and the area has traditionally voted for Republican candidates. Devin Nunes won the 2020 election with 54.2% of the vote — one of the closest contests in his nearly 20-year-long political career.

Conway has said she intends to act as a “caretaker” for the seat and has no intention of seeking reelection. She previously served as the Republican Party’s leader in the California State Assembly, where she helped set up the State’s Rainy Day Fund and worked to pass a statewide water initiative to increase agricultural jobs in the Central Valley.

Hubbard, meanwhile, is pushing to provide universal health care, and he wants the state to cancel student loan debt and expand trade and apprenticeship opportunities while increasing investments in public education. The Democrat works as an operations manager at the California Department of Water Resources.

Stoll is a business owner who led combat air strikes in the Navy and also served in the Marines. Stoll says he plans to “go to bat” for jobs in the Central Valley and lower taxes. The Republican also believes police officers have been unfairly demonized and underfunded and seeks to strengthen local law enforcement.

Garcia works as a therapist and previously served in the Marine Corps. The Democrat also supports universal health care and wants to provide tax credits to help small businesses recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and increase wages for their employees. He's further concerned with providing clean drinking water to Californians, canceling student loan debt and increasing access to quality public education.

Heng is a business owner who started a technology company that built an encrypted web browser, and says Congress should support tech innovation, encourage more young people to join the sector and reduce red tape that limits new business opportunities, while Maher is business owner who attended Harvard and Oxford Universities, previously served in the Navy and worked as a special agent for the FBI in Fresno.

Visalia resident Cindy Chan said she voted for Elizabeth Heng because, "She knows the tech industry and could maybe help bring some of those jobs to Visalia." Chan said she knows it's not a long-term position but "hopes it will help her chances if she decides to run again somewhere close by."

Danny Gomez, originally from Clovis, said he's voting for Lourin Hubbard because, "Hubbard wants to cancel student loan debt, which I support, and I like that he wants to get more kids into good paying trade jobs."

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Categories / Government, Politics, Regional

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