A Republican in California won a state Senate seat on Wednesday in a District in which Democrats have a 22-point advantage and that is 60% Hispanic.
Andy Vidak, the Republican farmer, won the special election runoff for the 16th District Senate seat when his opponent, Democrat Leticia Perez, a Kern County Supervisor, conceded on Wednesday, a day after voters cast their ballots. Vidak had 54% of the vote to Perez's 46%.
Perez had initially conceded two months ago when the special election was held. But a recount put Vidak under the 50% threshold that was needed to avoid a runoff, and Perez took back her concession nearly a week after the initial election. The seat became vacant when the Democrat, who won the seat in 2010 by 21 points, resigned to work for Chevron. Democrats thought, especially with a Hispanic female candidate, the seat would be a shoo-in for them. The veto-proof supermajority Democrats have in the state Senate is now imperiled with Vidak's victory.
As Breitbart News had previously reported, though, "Vidak, a working class candidate, resonated with working class Hispanics in the district who also saw how coastal California elites were not putting their bread-and-butter interests first."
Vidak ran broadly on "the bifurcation of California: the coastal liberal elites versus the Valley folks." On a more local level, Vidak's theme of "fish versus farmer" resonated with Democrats in a District where the unemployment rate is 15% and as high as 30% in some communities in the District. Vidak reminded voters that liberal environmentalists, in order to protect fish, only allowed farmers to receive 20% of their water allocation, crippling the region's economy. He also stressed that Perez supported the the state's high-speed rail project that would have razed business, farms, and homes in the District. Because she supported the agenda of coastal elites and Democrat interest groups, Perez was able to raise twice as much money as Vidak, but 16th District voters ultimately rejected her liberal policies.
It is often said that California is a harbinger of things to come for the country. For Republicans looking at California, there has not been much of hope of late, but Vidak's victory could be a sign that areas that have traditionally voted for Democrats may give the right kind of Republican a chance as they see unemployment rates increase and opportunities for upward mobility decrease in their communities.