On Wednesday, The Guardian profiled the congressional race of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), a longtime Central Valley representative who became a bogeyman of the left during his unflappably pro-Trump tenure as Intelligence Committee chairman — and revealed why his re-election could be even tougher now than his narrow victory in 2018.
“Two years ago, after 16 years in Congress, Nunes faced his first significant re-election battle when a local prosecutor, Andrew Janz, came within five percentage points of unseating him,” reported Andrew Gumbel. “This year, small business owner and civic activist Phil Arballo could come closer still with a campaign that has focused predominantly on the local issues that many constituents accuse Nunes of ignoring.”
“In a district that, until recently, was considered one of the few remaining safe Republican seats in California, Arballo is polling about five points behind Nunes but is rapidly closing in, according to a recent internal Democratic party poll,” continued the report. “The Democrat has also managed to pull in a sizeable fundraising haul, largely from small donations including hundreds of thousands of dollars raised in response to Nunes’s constant lawsuits. (Nunes still enjoys a huge fundraising advantage, though).”
“Arballo’s coalition is built on two pillars: the changing demographics of the area, which is now almost 50% Latino, and disaffection with Nunes,” said the report. “As Nunes has focused his energies largely on Washington’s toxic political culture and made himself less visible in his district, that disaffection has only grown.”
Some of the strongest organizing efforts against Nunes come from constituents who have grown sick of his antics, including organic fruit farmer Paul Buxman.
The two got off on the wrong foot soon after Nunes’ first election, where he visited Buxman’s farm only to grab a photo-op. “Buxman never was able to arrange a meeting with Nunes, despite making multiple overtures. Pretty soon, he stopped voting for him,” said the report. Buxman also began leaving complaints after Trump was elected and Nunes focused all his energies on investigating his political enemies, but “Nunes paid no attention until Buxman signed a petition demanding that Nunes stop describing himself as a farmer on the electoral ballot” — at which point Nunes sued him for defamation.
“I’ve said prayers for him,” said Buxman. “The way I see it, the best thing that could happen to him is that he lose the election. For his own sake. Then he really could start farming. I’d be glad to help him do that.”
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