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Senate District 16 spot to be decided Tuesday

Monday, July 22, 2013

One of the most unusual political contests in California history could be decided Tuesday.

The race for the 16th district in the state senate pits Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez against Kings County farmer Andy Vidak.

Vidak edged past Perez in a special election held in May, but not by enough to win outright. Whoever wins tomorrows election, will have to keep campaigning.

It has been a tough race for both and set new spending records. But both Leticia Perez and Andy Vidak are upbeat going into tomorrow's vote. Republican Andy Vidak and his supporters were busy working the phones in his Hanford campaign headquarters.

"We're excited, it's cooled off a little bit today and we've got lots of volunteers knocking on doors making a lot of phone calls," Vidak said.

Sunday night the UFW held a rally for Perez and she remained in Fresno today for a Democratic Party luncheon Monday. While she's a Kern County Supervisor from Bakersfield most of the voters in district are in Fresno County, so Perez has struggled to become known.

"We had a matter of weeks to close a massive name id gap and I'm so excited that we have finally done that because I can't go anywhere at this point telling me Leticia Perez is here good luck. Whether I'm at the sandwich shop or the coffee shop we know we have gotten our message out," Perez said.

Vidak a cherry farmer from Kings County became well known for his close finish in the 2012 Congressional race against democrat Jim Costa. His platform has not changed.

"We've just tried to talk about the issue we need affordable reliable water, and affordable reliable energy and we need more local control in our schools and that's what I've tried to focus on," Vidak said.

The numbers should make Vidak the underdog. Democrats outnumber Republicans in the district by a wide margin.

"There are no party lines with common sense and those three issues cross party lines that are why we have thousands of democrats, independents and republicans going our way," Vidak said.

For Perez, the issues are increasing the minimum wage, and; "Water storage, water delivery, AB 109 funding to keep our neighborhoods and communities safe, it takes someone being at the table and fighting for the Valley," Perez said.

By being at the table, she means with the Democratic Party super majority in the legislature. Which she says means her voice will be heard in Sacramento. Republicans are banking on Vidak to win the seat and putting them just one vote away from breaking the Democrats supermajority.

The race has been expensive. The Perez campaign has spent $ 2 million, Vidak $1.5 million and whoever wins will have to keep spending. The seat will be up for grabs in the next general election in November of next year.

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kings county, kern county, fresno county, local, gene haagenson
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