In a race thought to be an easy victory for the conservative Chair of the House Intelligence Committee in the solid Republican red 22nd congressional district, Rep. Devin Nunes is struggling, despite an 8-point lead in the Oct. 4 University of California-Berkley/IGS poll. The incumbent, a staunch ally of Donald Trump, sits at 53% over his Democratic challenger, 34-year-old deputy district attorney Andrew Janz, with 45%.
One shocker: the Fresno Bee endorsed Nunes’ Democratic challenger after having endorsed every congressional reelection since 2002.
And where once he was a Republican fundraising headliner, Nunes recently sent a fundraiser letter to “conservative patriots” in the San Francisco Bay Area to solicit money, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Oct. 15.
“I have become a constant target of attack for the political establishment, the mainstream media, far-left special interest groups and the extreme left-wing of the Democratic Party,” Nunes wrote in the letter obtained by the Los Angeles Blade, “I have a close up view of the left’s freakish coalition— the powerful public employee unions, radical environmental organizations, myriad far- left groups and other bizarre elements that comprise the left-wing power structure.”
Noting that Janz has raised millions of dollars and promising to raise “millions more,” Nunes added: “Replacing me in Congress with a leftist would be a major victory for the Democrats. I am depending on conservative patriots like you in California to stand with me.”
The Janz campaign has amassed a multi- million dollar war chest that is being spent on heavy media buys in the Fresno area as the race enters its final two weeks. The Fresno Bee editorial notes that the young Democrat is succeeding without Democratic Establishment support.
“Janz, 34, is a moderate Democrat who is campaigning without party support in his first election. The Democratic national committee has not seen his candidacy as a winner, given the 9-percentage-point advantage Nunes has in voter registration over Janz,” The Bee writes. “While that may seem a negative, it actually is a positive. Janz can act with a degree of independence from party politics and do what he thinks is best for the 22nd District.”
The editorial also called Nunes out for his lock-step support of Trump. “Voters can also choose Nunes and remain stuck with the damaging partisanship he practices, the party-above-country mode that motivates him to protect President Trump from the investigation into Russian meddling more than meet his constitutional obligations as an independent arm of government. Then there is his lack of regard for the needs of his part of California,” The Bee opined.
It is unclear if the Sept. 30 Esquire expose has done any damage, though many politicos were surprised to learn that Nunes’ family dairy farm is actually in Iowa, not in Tulare. Pollster Larry Sabato moved Nunes from “Solid Republican” to “Likely Republican” in his Crystal Ball forecast. – Karen Ocamb contributed to this story.