Republican David Valadao Unseats Democrat T.J. Cox in California; Avenges 2018 Loss

David Valadao (Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press)
Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

Republican David Valadao has defeated incumbent Rep. T.J. Cox (D-CA) in the close race for California’s 21st congressional district, according to Decision Desk.

Valadao avenged his loss in the Central Valley district in 2018, when Cox narrowly defeated the three-term congressman by less than 900 votes as mail-in ballots were counted. Though Valadao was leading on Election Night, Cox won the race several weeks later.

Breitbart News noted:

Valadao had a comfortable lead of 6.4% on Election Day. But California has extremely lenient rules about mail-in ballots, allowing ballots to be counted as long as they are postmarked by midnight on Election Day and received within the three days following.

Cox had severe weaknesses as a candidate, including the fact that he had a “primary residence” in Bethesda, Maryland. Valadao crushed him in the primary race by nearly two-to-one.

But the Democrats’ turnout machine proved too strong for Republicans across the state — including, apparently, Valadao.

In the aftermath, Valadao blamed “ballot harvesting” for his loss. The practice, illegal until 2020 almost everywhere outside California, allows party operatives to collect and deliver unlimited numbers of mail-in ballots.

As the Associated Press explained in 2018:

It’s a practice long used by special-interest groups and both major political parties that is viewed either as a voter service that boosts turnout or a nefarious activity that subjects voters to intimidation and makes elections vulnerable to fraud.

The groups rely on data showing which voters requested absentee ballots but have not turned them in. They then go door-to-door and offer to collect and turn in those ballots for the voters — often dozens or hundreds at a time. Some place ballot-collection boxes in high-concentration voter areas, such as college campuses, and take the ballots to election offices when the boxes are full.

California Republicans joined in the “ballot harvesting” in 2020, putting ballot boxed in party offices, churches, and retail stores owned by conservatives.

Valadao’s victory means that Republicans have flipped four Democrat-held seats in California, the most of any state, clawing back a majority of the seven California seats they lost to Democrats in 2018.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is The Trumpian Virtues: The Lessons and Legacy of Donald Trump’s Presidency. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.