Two new Republicans are now in the local political scene as they start to represent Merced County in Washington and Sacramento.
Late last week, farmer and businessman John Duarte declared victory in California’s 13th Congressional District, which contains much of the middle-to-lower Central Valley area.
And on Monday, newly elected State Assemblyman Juan Alanis was sworn into office to represent the 22nd District, which includes Gustine, Hilmar, Ballico and Snelling, as well a large part of Stanislaus County.
Both men are from Modesto.
“I am very grateful to the people of the 13th District who have chosen to put their faith in me and send a farmer to Congress,” Duarte said. “I promised our valley families that I would be their bipartisan champion in Washington, D.C. by fighting for food on our tables, gas in our tanks, and water on our farms. That is exactly what I am going to go there to do.
“This was a hard-fought campaign on both sides and I appreciate the concession from Assemblyman Adam Gray as it allows everyone to move forward on behalf of the hard-working families.
“Team Duarte visited over 30,000 homes during this campaign. My wife Alexandra and I personally visited over 5,000 homes. We listened to struggling working families and their stories. We felt the suffering in our Valley and we saw the faith in a better future that makes us so proud to call the Valley home. We promised every family that we would make a difference for them. I knew we were making connections. Many families told us that no one had ever visited and asked them for their vote before.”
California’s 13th District is home to 42.75 percent registered Democrats and 28.41 percent registered Republicans. The district is majority-Hispanic and home to substantial Spanish, Punjabi, and Hmong-speaking populations, yet Duarte, a Republican, broke down traditional communication barriers and spoke to all voters.
“John Duarte made it clear from Day 1 that he wanted all voters to hear his simple message: John is a local farmer who understands the struggles of valley families and will bring together Democrats, Republicans, and Independents to improve lives,” said Duane Dichiara of Axiom Strategies, Duarte’s lead consultant. “John spoke directly to Latino voters and listened to their stories. John walked more doors in working neighborhoods than I have ever seen a candidate walk. It is clear from the results that he won the support of countless Democrats and Independents.”
“I have already been working to build a first-class operation ready to serve our forgotten Valley communities on my first day in office,” said Duarte. “My first priority is to work across the aisle to secure affordable food, gas, and housing right here in the Valley. I will cut through the toxic partisanship that has poisoned Washington and made our politics so divisive. I will always put our Valley above politics. Our working families deserve abundance, not political talking points.”
Meanwhile, Duarte’s opponent, Adam Gray (D—Merced), released the following statement as he conceded the race:
“This was one of the closest races in the country. More than 130,000 ballots were cast, and the outcome will be decided by just a few hundred votes. This isn’t a Democrat or Republican district. To effectively represent us, our elected officials must embrace bipartisanship and independence. It takes courage to buck your own party leaders when they are wrong. That is what I have done during my time in the State Legislature, and I hope John is ready and willing to do the same for us in Congress.
“To my family, friends, and supporters from all across the political spectrum – thank you. We accomplished incredible things together and truly punched above our weight.
“There is still so much work to be done. For now, I hope the next few weeks will allow us to reflect on what unites us as a community. We have new leaders at the local, state, and federal levels. I will do everything in my power to help each of them be effective leaders.”
For newly elected Assemblyman Alanis in the 22nd District, he has already introduced the California Promise legislative package, which focuses on passing legislation that puts hard-working Californians first.
“Californians pay the highest income taxes in the nation, leaving far too many families struggling,” said Assemblyman Alanis. “I will fight for real policy solutions to ensure that every Californian can afford to live in the golden state. It is crucial, as legislators, to help families do more than just make ends meet and we can start by lowering tax rates for middle- and low-income taxpayers. We also need more water storage, and I will be introducing legislation that will put funding in place to ensure that we can build sufficient water infrastructure for all Californians, including my constituents in the Central Valley.”
Alanis says he is dedicated to relieving the financial burden many are feeling right now by introducing legislation that will cut unnecessary taxes for Californians by lowering the income tax rates for the middle and lower class. This would allow taxpayers to keep more of their wages.
As part of the California Promise, Assemblyman Alanis will also introduce legislation that will place guaranteed funding for critical investments needed to ensure there is available water infrastructure and sufficient healthy forest and wildfire prevention to protect California. The proposal would protect environmental health of forested lands, which will combat wildfire risk and spur workforce development in rural areas of the state.