Third California Democrat launches House bid to challenge Nunes

California Democrat Phil Arballo on Thursday launched a 2020 House campaign to unseat Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesSunday shows preview: Protests against George Floyd’s death, police brutality rock the nation for a second week Sunday shows preview: Leaders weigh in as country erupts in protest over George Floyd death The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – George Floyd’s death sparks protests, National Guard activation MORE (R), the controversial ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. 

Arballo, a Latino businessman, is the third Democrat to jump in the race against Nunes, a seven-term congressman who has become a lightning rod of criticism among the left for his staunch loyalty to President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE and his fierce critiques of the intelligence community. 


Arballo, however, focused his criticism of Nunes on kitchen-table issues such as health care, farming and trade, zeroing in on the consequences of President Trump’s tariffs. 

“We haven’t heard anything from Devin on how this is hurting our farmers,’’ he said in an interview with Politico. “That’s going to come back to haunt us, and consumers are going to be paying for it down the road.” 

Arballo added that he also looks to hit Nunes over his frequent appearances on Fox News and his defense of the White House over issues such as Russia’s election meddling and impeachment, saying he prioritizes a national profile over district-specific issues and “chooses to be in Washington.”

Arballo already has the backing of Andrew Janz, who ran a tight campaign to unseat Nunes in 2018.

“Phil Arballo is our best chance to defeat Devin Nunes, hands down,’’ Janz told Politico. “I’m proud to support Phil and know that he’ll be the champion the Valley needs.”

Arballo hopes his background as a Mexican American son of a single mother will help him resonate with the district’s Latino voters, who outnumber white voters by a 46 percent to 40 percent margin.

“With the national turnout what it was last time around, we’re excited to see more Latinos and more people of color in the district. There’s a hunger out there from the base,” one party insider told Politico.

To face Nunes, Arballo will first have to win the Democratic primary. Bobby Bliatout, who unsuccessfully ran for the House seat in 2016, and small business owner Dary Rezvani are also running in the race. 

Nunes’s 5-point victory over Janz in 2018 was slimmer than his past reelections, a sign Democrats hope means the California Republican is vulnerable next year. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report, however, rates Nunes’s seat as “Likely Republican.”

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