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- Rep. TJ Cox is running in a rematch against Republican David Valadao, who he previously defeated in 2018's midterm elections.
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- California's 21st Congressional District, located in California's San Joaquin Valley, consists of Kings County and pieces of Kern, Tulare, and Fresno counties.
- The Fresno Bee's editorial board recently endorsed Valadao for the seat after Cox was embroiled in scandals over his business dealings and unpaid taxes. Each candidate has close to $2 million in cash on hand.
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Democratic Rep. TJ Cox and Republican David Valadao are set for a rematch in California's 21st Congressional District as Valadao looks to reclaim the House seat he once held for three terms. In 2018, Cox defeated Valadao by only 862 votes, a margin of 0.8 percentage points, in a tightly contested race.
Rep. TJ Cox is a California native campaigning for reelection on a platform of immigration policy reform, supporting schools, and healthcare for all, and has consistently hammered Valadao on his vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Previously an engineer working on water conveyance systems and dams, Cox has introduced multiple bills and passed one item of legislation to increase the quality of central California's drinking water and river restoration infrastructure.
Valadao, a former member of the California State Assembly and farmer, has been in politics for most of his life. The son of Portuguese immigrants, Valadao noted that he could not support then-candidate Donald Trump's campaign for the presidency in 2016. But after President Trump was elected, Valadao voted in line with the president 97.9% of the time according to FiveThirtyEight, and is supporting Trump in 2020.
Cox has faced some scrutiny and controversy in his short tenure in Congress for owing over $140,000 in unpaid federal taxes, and owing tens of thousands of back wages to workers, initially failing to disclose some of his financial holdings, and, as the Fresno Bee reported, listing two separate primary residences in Maryland and California for tax purposes, which Cox explained as an "honest mistake" and subsequently fixed. He eventually did pay back employee back wages.
The Bee has now endorsed Valadao over Cox in the race, writing: "While Cox has sponsored or cosponsored useful legislation in his first term, the financial revelations raise questions about Cox's credibility. Voters should retire Cox and bring back Valadao, who is once again seeking the seat."
See Insider's full coverage of the race for the House of Representatives
Located in the south-central region of California, the state's 21st Congressional District comprises Kings County and portions of Tulare, Kern, and Fresno counties. A little over 70% of the district is Hispanic and has a median household income of $37,228, according to the 2010 US Census.
The district backed President Barack Obama by 11 points in 2012 and voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by a margin of over 15 points in 2016, according to the Daily Kos.
The money race
According to campaign finance filings, the incumbent, Cox, has raised $5.1 million, spent $4.6 million, and has around $535,000 in cash on hand. His opponent, Valadao, raised $3.7 million in the same period of time, spent $2.9 million, and has around $931,600 on hand.
What some of the experts say
The race between Cox and Valadao is rated as a "toss-up" by The Cook Political Report and Inside Elections and "leans Democratic" by Sabato's Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
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