Upset: Republican wins California Senate seat in heavily Hispanic district
posted at 1:27 pm on July 30, 2013 by Guy Benson
Democrats’ stranglehold on the California legislature loosened slightly last week when a Republican farmer captured an open Senate seat in the state’s beleaguered Central Valley. The victor, Andy Vidak, is fluent in Spanish and worked tirelessly to persuade voters to embrace his vision of limited government and lower taxes. Vidak’s recipe for success included relentless retail politics, thousands of face-t0-face conversations, and a local GOP that marshaled its resources to simply out-work complacent Democrats:
Fresno cherry farmer and cattle rancher Andy Vidak, who is fluent in Spanish, said he captured the state Senate seat in last week’s closely watched runoff vote by connecting with Hispanic voters with a “common-sense” approach that focused on job creation, affordable energy and opposition to big government. He even cooked menudo, a cow-stomach soup and a Mexican favorite, at a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce event at the Bakersfield fairgrounds where 10,000 Hispanics turned out. He got a big assist from other GOP officeholders and hundreds of Spanish-speaking Republican volunteers going door to door, making pitches in Spanish where necessary in the 60 percent Hispanic district. Mr. Vidak also managed to create a little political daylight from hard-liners in his party on the issue of eventually granting citizenship to illegal immigrants. “We talked to them in their homes, where they are most comfortable on the issues that matter most to them: improving the economy, lower taxes, less government interference with small business,” Republican Assemblyman Travis Allen said. Fresno GOP Chairman Kurtis Wiley said he had never seen a party work harder and rally its resources any better.
Vidak won Friday’s run-off, carrying 54 percent of the vote in a district that is 63 percent Hispanic, and in which Democrats hold a wide registration advantage. The seat was previously held by Democrat Michael Rubio, who won it handily in 2010. Despite Vidak’s hard-earned triumph, California Democrats maintain super-majority control of the Senate in Sacramento. Due to a recent vacancy, the party is currently one vote shy of re-establishing its previous super-majority in the State Assembly, as well. California has the 49th worst state credit rating in the nation, second only to Illinois. These states share a common trait.