Liberal, conservative face off in California US House fight

Apr 8, 2022, 5:23 PM | Updated: 6:29 pm
FILE - U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., speaks during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Cap...

FILE - U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., speaks during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, April 15, 2021. Voters in California's sprawling farm belt are filling a congressional seat left vacant after Nunes resigned to lead former President Donald Trump's media company. (Al Drago/Pool Photo via AP, File)

(Al Drago/Pool Photo via AP, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The contest to replace former Republican Rep. Devin Nunes in Central California will present voters with a sharply defined choice: the candidates are a progressive Democrat who supports universal health care and a former Trump administration appointee.

Preliminary returns released Friday from a Tuesday special election showed Democrat Lourin Hubbard capturing the second spot in a June runoff for the vacant seat in the state’s farm belt. He will face Connie Conway, a former Republican leader in the state Assembly and California executive director of the Agriculture Department’s Farm Service Agency during the Trump administration. She was the top vote-getter who earlier advanced to the June matchup.

With most of the vote tallied, Hubbard had just under 20%, with his closest competitor for the second runoff spot, Republican Matt Stoll, several percentage points back.

Nunes, one of former President Donald Trump’s most ardent loyalists in Congress, resigned the 22nd District seat earlier this year to lead Trump’s social media company.

The seat in the GOP-leaning district is expected to stay in Republican hands.

Because no candidate was able to claim a majority of the vote Tuesday and win outright, only the top two finishers advance to a runoff. The runoff will coincide with the statewide June 7 primary election.

The election for the vacant seat has been largely ignored nationally as Democrats and Republicans focus on midterm elections that will determine control of Congress in 2023.

Nunes’ unexpected departure in January created an unusual situation for his former constituents: The winner of the election will serve only months in Congress, and the district will vanish next year because of redrawn boundaries.

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Liberal, conservative face off in California US House fight