Will Support for Mike Johnson Hurt Valley Republicans?

After weeks of dysfunction, House Republicans finally approved a Speaker to replace Kevin McCarthy, the San Joaquin Valley Congressman who could never apply the enormous power of the Speaker’s position because he couldn’t appease the party’s MAGA extremists. McCarthy was ousted after a fevered House minority wouldn’t abide his decision that it was more important to fund our government during this time of world crisis than bow to the demands of Donald Trump and his election-denying supporters.

Keep in mind that it was McCarthy who empowered Trump and his House posse by giving in to virtually every demand they made. He even appointed Trump toadies to key committees and positions of power in the House. That wasn’t enough.

After weeks of partisan infighting, House Republicans unanimously approved an eager participant in efforts to overturn a free and fair election. Louisiana Representative Mike Johnson tried to give legal legitimacy to Trump’s attempts to invalidate the will of the American people and gained the Speaker’s gavel only after Trump sabotaged attempts to elevate Minnesota’s Tom Emmer because Emmer didn’t grovel enough. Emmer also opposed attempts to overturn election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania. That made him a “RINO” in Trump’s eyes and Trump now calls the shots for a party that has become openly and even proudly anti-democratic.

The question for Republicans is whether this latest example of Trump’s iron grip on the party that once revered Ronald Reagan as a standard-bearer for democracy around the world will hurt their chances in 2024. Valley Republicans John Duarte and David Valadao will be in tight races that are rated tossups by Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a highly respected forecaster of political races nationwide. Both supported Mike Johnson.

John Duarte, Modesto, September, 2022
John Duarte, Modesto, September, 2022

Duarte’s race against Adam Gray in 2022 was decided by just over 500 votes. It was the second closest House race in the nation. Valadao won California Congressional District 22 by three percentage points.

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, who is now second in line to succeed to the presidency, is adamantly against women’s right to choose and has written that gay marriage could lead to people marrying their pets. He voted against the McCarthy-endorsed plan that kept the government funded and functioning.

Nonetheless, one of the reasons David Valadao said he supported him is the “deadline to fund the government in less than thirty days.” Why Valadao thinks Johnson will suddenly become rational about government spending is a mystery; given past history, the likelihood he’ll achieve independence and defy Donald Trump is slimmer than Trump’s chances at being named the American Ambassador to the Ukraine.

Whether John Duarte and David Valadao will be able to convince their constituents they support free and fair elections will be open to question as long as they remain willing to support an election-denier like Mike Johnson. Their need to march to Donald Trump’s drumbeat has been confirmed yet again. They may yet rue the day they cast their lots with a former president who leaves a wake of destroyed careers and ruined character everywhere he travels. Just ask Kevin McCarthy, who just made history as the first Speaker to be ousted from office. That kind of ignominious fate awaits most anyone who walks into the dark shadow cast by Donald Trump’s insatiable lust for power. It may determine whether John Duarte and David Valadao return to congress after next year’s election.


Eric Caine
Eric Caine
Eric Caine formerly taught in the Humanities Department at Merced College. He was an original Community Columnist at the Modesto Bee, and wrote for The Bee for over twelve years.
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  1. Voting for Johnson is a great gift for Americans who will see what nihilists believe. I hope our valley neighbors understand.

  2. Fat chance these hyper-partisan delusions are anywhere near accurate as to most observers the elevation of Mike Johnson only serves to anticipate the “Red Wave” we all should know is coming in 2024.

    Look at the mess Democrats have inflicted upon us! A wide open border that Dems somehow think will benefit them as all those people will, of course, be dependent on government programs and thus they and their progeny will vote Democrat; The party of the omnipotent Public Employee Labor Unions!

    The huge rise in crime that is the immediate result is incidental as the tremendous inflation from the increased government intrusion into our markets will now be compounded by the increased taxes and fees that Dems will need to feed their lust for governance. What this columnist cannot understand is that in 2024, when voters ask how their lives have been under this executive vs the last one; Most likely we’ll get the last one back, or one in his image!

  3. Your blog time would be better spent explaining to valley Jews what the Democrats plan to do to eradicate the grotesque nazi-like, hamas-supporting antisemites in the party. Addressing their support for the premeditated, gleeful slaughter of innocents should be a national first priority instead of deflecting.

  4. Mr Losh, I am always amazed when someone says ” wide open border” for immigrants, refugees and desperate people. The “can” so called, are people. Money and crime are always part of the conversation. It’s been years of paste and hope problem goes away. No real try to fix the human problem. Trump, a Republican, egotist and person?, decided, along with willing advisers, decided separating kids from parents was good Don’t bother with records to unite them as they aren’t people. Keep them in Mexico as it is handy and won’t fight the US. Withdraw, from countries, monies that lessen the flood coming here for a better life.

    For me, the situation will never be totally fixed and the USA needs that energy these people bring with them. What fix there might be is, a dedicated PANEL, COMMITTEE, whatever you call them, again dedicated with history and present as teachers. Money for the infrastructure necessary to fix problem instead of using people as a political ping pong. Democrats and Republicans, not all and everyone good or bad, but definitely ignoring the people with very little voice for election.

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