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David Goncalves Valadao /ˌvæləˈd/ (born April 14, 1977) is an American politician who served as a member of the United States House of Representatives, representing California's 21st congressional district from 2013 to 2019.

David Valadao
David Valadao, official portrait, 113th Congress.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 21st district
In office
January 3, 2013 – January 3, 2019
Preceded byDevin Nunes (Redistricting)
Succeeded byTJ Cox
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 30th district
In office
December 6, 2010 – November 30, 2012
Preceded byDanny Gilmore
Succeeded byRudy Salas
Personal details
David Goncalves Valadao

(1977-04-14) April 14, 1977 (age 42)
Hanford, California, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Terra Valadao (m. 1999)
EducationCollege of the Sequoias

Prior to that, he served one term in the California State Assembly, representing the 30th district. He is a member of the Republican Party. Fluent in both Portuguese and Spanish, Valadao was one of five House Republicans who represented a Hispanic-majority district and has gained a reputation as one of the Republican Party's leading advocates of comprehensive immigration reform.[1][2]


Early life and educationEdit

Valadao with Devin Nunes in June 2004

Valadao was born and raised in Hanford, California. His parents are Portuguese immigrants; his father grew up on the Azores Islands. In a 2013 interview, Valadao said that his parents were initially registered Democrats, but later switched to the Republican Party.[3]

Valadao graduated from Hanford High School in 1995.[4] From 1996 to 1998,[5] he attended the College of the Sequoias in Visalia as a part-time student, but did not graduate.[6]

Agriculture careerEdit

Valadao's father established a dairy farm in Kings County, California in 1969. Along with his brother, he became a partner in Valadao Dairy in 1992.[6] He has been a member of the California Milk Advisory Board, Western States Dairy Trade Association, and Regional Leadership Council Chairman for Land O' Lakes.[7]

In March 2018, Valadao, a general partner of Triple V Dairy, was named in two lawsuits against the dairy for defaulting on almost $9 million in loans and for failing to pay a supplier.[8] In June 2018, a bank seized the dairy and sold it off to pay its debts. Valadao stated: "Like so many family dairy farms across the country, burdensome government regulations made it impossible for the operation to remain open."[9]

California AssemblyEdit

2010 electionEdit

Valadao announced his candidacy for California's 30th State Assembly district following the retirement of Republican Assemblyman Danny Gilmore in 2010. He defeated Stephanie Campbell in the Republican primary 78%–22%.[10] In the general election, he defeated Shafter Mayor Fran Florez 61%–39%.[11][12]

Committee assignmentsEdit

  • Assembly Agriculture Committee (Vice Chairman)
  • Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee
  • Assembly Budget Committee

U.S. House of RepresentativesEdit



Valadao announced in August 2011 that he would seek the Republican nomination for California's 21st congressional district.[13] The district had previously been the 20th District, represented by four-term Democrat Jim Costa. However, redistricting had shifted most of the district's share of Fresno to the new 16th District, and Costa sought reelection there.

In the June 5 open primary, he ranked first with 57% of the vote, ahead of Democrat John Hernandez – the head of the local Hispanic Chamber of Commerce – and Fresno city councilman Blong Xiong.[14] In the November 6 election, he defeated Hernandez by a margin of 58%–42%.[15] His victory in a district that had long been held by Democrats was cited in an op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal as a potential template for the GOP, while other analysts cited his opponent's "weakness as a candidate and a campaigner" as playing a major role.[16]


Valadao ran for reelection in November 2014. His challengers were Democrat Amanda Renteria, a former political aide to Dianne Feinstein and Debbie Stabenow,[17] and John Hernandez, the Democratic nominee whom he defeated in 2012.[18] In the June 3 primary, he ranked first once again with 63% of the vote, and received majorities of 60% or higher in every county except for Kern. In the November 4 general election, Valadao was reelected with 58% of the vote.[19]


Valadao ran for reelection to a third term in 2016. His first challenger was Democrat Daniel Parra, the Mayor pro tem of Fowler, California.[20] Another Democratic challenger was Connie Perez, an accountant in Pasadena, California, who grew up in Tulare, but due to issues regarding her residency outside of the district, as well as an alleged recent change in party affiliation, Perez dropped out less than a month after announcing her candidacy.[21][22] In January 2016, Emilio Huerta, son of United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta, announced his candidacy in the race as a Democrat.[23] In the June 7 primary, Valadao came in first with 58.2% of the vote, while Parra finished narrowly ahead of Huerta. However, in the following days, enough absentee ballots came in to allow Huerta to overtake Parra, with 24.2% to Parra's 21.8%, while Valadao's vote total fell to 54%.[24][25] In the general election, Valadao was reelected with 56.7% of the vote to Huerta's 43.3%.[26]


In 2018, Valadao was initially set to face Huerta again in a rematch, with Huerta announcing his bid in May 2017.[27] However, Huerta suspended his campaign in March 2018 because he lacked sufficient funding to effectively challenge Valadao.[28][29] After Huerta’s withdrawal, engineer T. J. Cox of Fresno announced that he would challenge Valadao.[30] Cox had previously announced a challenge to Republican Congressman Jeff Denham in the 10th district before switching to Valadao’s seat.[31]

Valadao declared victory on November 6 after AP called the race in his favor, but saw his lead drop and eventually reverse, giving Cox the lead. Cox officially won the race on November 28,[32][33][34][35][36] and Valadao officially conceded on December 6.[37] It was one of the last 2018 U.S. House races to be decided.[36]


He and Democrat Jim Costa were the leaders of the Portuguese Caucus in the U.S. Congress.

Committee assignmentsEdit

Caucus membershipsEdit

Political positionsEdit

For 114th United States Congress, Valadao was ranked as the 42nd most bipartisan member of the U.S. House of Representatives (and the third most bipartisan member of the U.S. House of Representatives from California) in the Bipartisan Index created by The Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy that ranks members of the United States Congress by their degree of bipartisanship (by measuring the frequency each member's bills attract co-sponsors from the opposite party and each member's co-sponsorship of bills by members of the opposite party).[41]

As of September 2018, Valadao had voted with his party in 92.2% of votes in the United States Congress.[42]

Vote Smart Political Courage TestEdit

According to Vote Smart's 2016 analysis, Valadao generally supported pro-life legislation, opposed an income tax increase, opposed requiring states to adopt federal education standards, supported lowering taxes as a means of promoting economic growth, supported the building of the Keystone Pipeline, supported government funding for the development of renewable energy, opposed the federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, opposed gun-control legislation, supported repealing the Affordable Care Act, opposed requiring immigrants who are unlawfully present to return to their country of origin before they are eligible for citizenship, opposed same-sex marriage, and supported increased American intervention in Iraq and Syria beyond air support.[43]

Donald Trump and the 2016 presidential electionEdit

Valadao "was one of the first Republican supporters of Donald Trump's candidacy." He expressed support for Donald Trump from October 2015 to May 2016 but temporarily rescinded his support in June 2016, saying he could not support a candidate who "denigrates people based on their ethnicity, religion, or disabilities."[44]

In February 2017, he voted against a resolution that would have directed the House to request ten years of Trump's tax returns, which would then have been reviewed by the House Ways and Means Committee in a closed session.[45]

As of April 2018, Valadao had "voted with Trump policies nearly 99 percent of the time, tied for second place as the 'most Trump-aligned,' along with more than 40 other GOP House caucus members."[46]

FiveThirtyEight found that, as of September 2018, Valadao had voted in line with President Trump's position 99% of the time, and was the most partisan Trump supporter in the U.S. House when compared to his district's voting patterns.[47]


Valadao rejects the proposition that climate change has anything to do with the drought that California has been experiencing since 2011, blaming "environmental regulations" for it instead.[48] Jay Famiglietti, senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, says that Valadao is incorrect.[49][unreliable source?]

In 2017, he introduced H.R. 23, the Gaining Responsibility on Water Act (GROW Act), which would modernize water policies and permit California farmers to use more water. Also in 2017, he co-sponsored, with Kevin McCarthy, H.R. 806 the Ozone Standards Implementation Act, which would challenge EPA's standards, which he considers excessively restrictive.[46]

Food stampsEdit

In 2013, Valadao was one of just 15 House Republicans to vote against a Republican-backed bill "that makes deep cuts in food stamp spending."[50]

Government shutdownEdit

In September 2013, in response to threats of a government shutdown over defunding of the Affordable Care Act, Valadao cosponsored the Government Shutdown Fairness Act, which would prevent all members of Congress from receiving their salaries if a shutdown occurred.[51]


Valadao was in favor of repealing the Affordable Care Act. On May 4, 2017, Valadao voted to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA).[52][53] Valadao said, "The American Health Care Act will stabilize our health-care system, ensuring our community has access to high quality, affordable health care."[54] Valadao stated that one aspect of AHCA that he liked was $8 billion in funding over five years to help insure those with preexisting conditions in so-called "high-risk pools".[55] Deborah Kelch, a former legislative analyst for the state of California, has expressed doubt that there is enough funding available to establish affordable and effective high risk pools.[55] The revised version of AHCA allows states to get waivers to allow insurers to charge individuals with preexisting conditions more.[56]

In June 2017, Valadao and Jeff Denham (CA-10) introduced the Assessing Critical Care Efforts to Strengthen Services (ACCESS) Act. It would correct California's Medicaid reimbursement method, thus encouraging physicians to operate in the Central Valley and to ensure patient access to doctors and specialists.[57]

In July 2017, Valadao and five other members of Congress introduced the Training the Next Generation of Primary Care Doctors Act of 2017, which would reauthorize the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) Program. It would expand existing programs at health centers and establish new teaching health centers. "By reauthorizing the THC Graduate Medical Education (GME) Program, and prioritizing rural and medically underserved areas, our bill will ensure our most disadvantaged communities, like California's Central Valley, have access to the primary care services they deserve."[58]


Valadao has fought for comprehensive immigration reform.[2][59] In August 2014, Valadao broke ranks with the Republican Party and voted against a bill that would have dismantled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.[60] Valadao supports a permanent solution for DACA. He has said that DACA is not a partisan issue and that Congress "must come together to provide a legislative solution so these individuals may continue to live in the only home they know: the United States."[46]

In 2013, Valadao was one of three House Republicans to support H.R. 15, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. In 2015, he voted against a defense bill amendment that would ban illegal aliens from the military. He also cosponsored both H.R. 496, the Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy (BRIDGE) Act, and H.R. 1468, the Recognizing America’s Children (RAC) Act, which would provide a path to legal status for persons brought to the U.S. illegally as children.[46]

On February 23, 2017, Valadao called for a bipartisan solution to the U.S. immigration system. Later in 2017, Valadao and nine other lawmakers wrote to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan asking for legislation to address the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.[61]

In March 2018, he cosponsored H. Res. 774, described by Valadao as "a legislative maneuver that will allow the House to individually debate and vote on four different pieces of immigration legislation."[46]

In June 2018, Valadao released a statement about the "zero tolerance" policy of the Department of Justice, which involved separating children and parents at the Mexican border. "The substantial increase of minors at our southern border is both a humanitarian and national security crisis," Valadao wrote. "While we must work towards a solution that reduces the occurrence of illegal border crossings, it is unacceptable to separate young children from their parents. This is exactly why passage of a compromise solution, such as that being discussed in Congress right now, is absolutely necessary."[62]


Valadao had a "D" rating from NORML for his voting history regarding cannabis-related causes. Valadao opposed veterans having access to medical marijuana if recommended by their Veterans Health Administration doctor and if it is legal for medicinal purposes in their state of residence.[63]


In December 2017, Valadao voted in favor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.[64] Valadao says that the "outdated tax code" negatively impacts his constituents. He says the new tax code will be "simpler" and that his community will see more jobs, improved economic growth, and higher wages.[65]


Valadao has criticized the Trump administration's imposition of tariffs against Chinese steel and aluminum imports, which prompted China to impose retaliatory tariffs on a range of U.S. agriculture products. In May 2018, Valadao sent a letter to United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, expressing concern over the tariffs' negative impacts on the Central Valley's economy. Valadao wrote: "Not only do the proposed tariffs fail to adequately remedy China's unfair practices, such tariffs seriously jeopardize our farmers' access to export markets, which accounts for roughly twenty percent of their production."[66]

In an April 2018 letter to President Trump, Valadao urged him to "reconsider the idea of broad tariffs to avoid unintended negative consequences to the U.S. economy and its workers."[46]


In January 2017, Valadao introduced H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, "to grant presumptive Agent Orange exposure status to U.S. service members who served in the territorial seas of Vietnam during the Vietnam War. This would enable eligible veterans to receive expedited consideration for Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits if they suffer from any of the diseases the U.S. Government has linked to Agent Orange." In August 2017, Valadao and Democratic congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), sent a letter urging the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure that Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans have access to medical care from the VA.[67]

Electoral historyEdit

California's 30th State Assembly district, 2010 (Republican primary):[10]

  • David Valadao – 11,296 (78%)
  • Stephanie Campbell – 3,213 (22%)

California's 30th State Assembly district, 2010[11]

  • David Valadao – 37,392 (61%)
  • Fran Florez – 24,386 (39%)

California's 21st congressional district, 2012:

  • David Valadao – 49,205 (60%)
  • John Hernandez – 32,967 (40%)

California's 21st congressional district, 2014:

California's 21st congressional district, 2016:

  • David Valadao – 75,126 (56.7%)
  • Emilio Jesus Huerta – 57,282 (43.3%)

California's 21st congressional district, 2018:

  • TJ Cox – 57,187 (50.4%)
  • David Valado – 56,344 (49.6%)

Honors and awardsEdit

In August 2014, the United States Chamber of Commerce awarded Valadao its Spirit of Enterprise Award.[2] Valadao won the same award again less than two years later, in a 2016.[68] Valadao was the poorest member of Congress in 2014, with over $12 million in loans to his family's dairy farm.[69]

Personal lifeEdit

Valadao lives in Hanford with his wife, Terra, and their three children.[70]


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  4. ^ Cassandra Sandoval, David Valadao keeps Congress seat, Kinsburg Recorder (November 16, 2016).
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  48. ^ "california-dems-in-tight-races-balk-at-obama-climate-talk".
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  70. ^ "About David". Valadao for Congress. Archived from the original on March 31, 2012. Retrieved January 24, 2012.

External linksEdit