California Assembly District 32
This fall, California’s lower legislative chamber will again be filling all 80 of its elected member positions.
Working conditions will depend on the partisan breakdown of all new hires. With the current composition of the Assembly—55 Democrats and 25 Republicans—Democrats are holding on to their two-thirds supermajority by only one seat. A supermajority in both the Assembly and Senate would allow Democrats, if united, to raise taxes, override vetoes, place constitutional amendments on the ballot, and largely ignore their Republican colleagues.
Job duties include:
- Spend months drafting, discussing, and haggling over bills that will affect the lives of all Californians
- Retain the option of waiting until the very last week of session before passing or dumping most of said bills in a flurry
- Spend months drafting, discussing, and haggling over resolutions that will affect the lives of virtually no Californians
- Help craft a multi-billion-dollar budget for the state
- Strive to represent the interests of 500,000 constituents, most of them strangers
California State Assemblymember
Hanford City Councilman
Incumbent Party: Democratic
Democratic vs Republican Voter Registration: 22.5% D
Trump vs Clinton Margin, 2016: 18.5% Clinton
Margin of Victory in Last Election: 30.2%
Top Two Primary Applicants, June 2018: Rudy Salas (50.4%), Justin Mendes (49.6%)
Democratic vs Republican Vote Share, June 2018: 0.8% D
In the primary hiring round on June 5th, the two applicants to represent this hook-shaped district in and around Bakersfield came within 1 percentage point of one another. That arguably makes this Assembly posting the most competitive in the state. Assemblyman Rudy Salas has held this seat since 2012 and his legislative track record reflects his tenuous political position as a Democrat in a relatively conservative stretch of agricultural California. One of the leaders of the Assembly’s “mod squad,” a group of business-friendly Democrats, he was the lone member of his caucus to vote against an increase the gas tax last year.
Justin Mendes may not be a household name in much of the district—he hails from the district’s more conservative section in Kings County, where he serves as a city council member in Hanford. But as a former staffer to Republican Rep. David Valadao, he’s a known quantity within local GOP circles. And as one of the California Republican Party’s best opportunities to turn a blue seat red—and potentially block Democrats from holding onto their narrow supermajority in the Assembly—he’s sure to be both the beneficiary and the target of plenty of outside political spending.