Former California Assemblyman Adam Gray announced Wednesday, August 9, that he will run again for Congress against Hughson nurseryman and farmer John Duarte. In 2022, Gray lost to Duarte by fewer than 600 votes. It was the second closest race in the nation.
2022 was a non-presidential election year. Such years tend to feature lower turnouts and favor Republicans. The upcoming election could be determined by two factors, the expected candidacy of Donald Trump and women’s rights.
Assuming Trump survives the growing blizzard of indictments he faces, he is virtually certain to be the Republican candidate for president. That will mean a large turnout. Abortion has already proven to be a pivotal issue in states like Ohio, where voters rejected what many viewed as an attempt weaken women’s rights.
When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe vs Wade, it incited a backlash that shows no signs of diminishing nationwide. Duarte will be tied to that issue. If Trump runs, Duarte will also have to finesse his way around Trump’s many alleged crimes in such a way as to keep Trump supporters pacified without alienating moderate conservatives who view Trump as an enemy to American institutions of law and democratic tradition.
So far, even Republican presidential candidates like Ron DeSantis and Mike Pence have found it difficult to find a way between all-out Trumpism and admissions that Joe Biden won a free and fair election.
As Trump’s legal jeopardy mounts, Pence and DeSantis are showing signs that they may be willing to risk the ire of Trump supporters by distancing themselves from the most brazen of his lies. DeSantis recently admitted Trump lost the 2020 election, and Pence has said that Trump called him “too honest” for refusing to participate in Trump’s attempt to overturn Biden’s win. The problem for DeSantis, Pence and other candidates is that Trump supporters make up of the core of the Republican Party; it’s virtually impossible to win without them.
In 2022, John Duarte proved himself an agile and crafty politician. He will need to be both to survive what looks like an election that will be determined by women’s rights and the specter of Donald Trump. Even if Trump’s campaign is derailed by his alleged crimes, repealing Roe vs Wade will almost certainly be a pivotal issue, as will be the Republican Party’s allegiance to Trump, convicted or not.
2022 was a low turnout year in the northern San Joaquin Valley. Adam Gray is counting on a higher turnout to put him past that tiny margin of John Duarte’s win.
Many things can happen between now and the 2024 election, but the one certainty is Gray will need to get out the vote. Overturning Roe vs Wade has energized voters nationwide. With or without Donald Trump in the campaign for president, that could be the key issue in the race between Adam Gray and John Duarte. Adam Gray supports women’s right to choose.