HANFORD — Looks like the 14th state Senate District contest is boiling down to Andy Vidak vs. Luis Chavez.
Kings County Supervisor Richard Valle confirmed to The Sentinel Friday that he’s pulling out of the race.
“I want to stay here,” he said. “I’m going to get back to the basics.”
Valle’s announcement comes after Chavez, a Fresno Unified School District trustee, locked up near-unanimous support from delegates in advance of the California Democratic Party’s state convention next month.
“I wish Richard the best,” Chavez said. “I know he’s got his hands full down there as a Kings County supervisor.”
The Chavez-Vidak match-up will once again test the power of the Hispanic voting bloc in a district with a majority Latino population.
Vidak, a Hanford cherry farmer and rancher, beat Latino challenger Leticia Perez twice last year to grab the old 16th state Senate District seat after it was vacated by Michael Rubio. Due to redistricting, Hanford is now in the newly drawn 14th district, which ropes in more of Tulare County than the 16th did.
All of Kings County is inside the 14th district’s boundary lines.
Perez lost to Vidak despite enjoying a 22 percentage-point Democratic voter registration edge. The 14th is only slightly less friendly to Democrats, giving them an 18-percentage-point advantage.
Vidak has at least two advantages over Chavez: name recognition throughout the district and a campaign war chest stuffed with cash. The last campaign finance report, covering the period through Dec. 31, 2013, showed Vidak with $182,788 left in the account.
Chavez reported raising $1,550. The next report is due March 24.
“I’m going to run a really great grassroots campaign,” Chavez said. “We’ve got a lot of support. We’re just working really hard.”
Vidak, who grew up in Tulare County, said he likes the new district boundaries. He also likes the slightly less daunting voter registration numbers.
“We’re just doing our job,” he said. “Our priorities are water, stopping the high-speed rail project, education and jobs, jobs, jobs.”
“I don’t know a whole lot about Chavez,” Vidak said. “We’ve still got a ways to go.”
It’s possible others might still jump into the race. The deadline to file for candidacy is March 7.
The reporter can be reached at 583-2432 and at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SethN_HS.