California tech executive to run for Central Valley Congress

A Republican tech executive battling to replace former Congressman Devin Nunes will also run for the U.S. House of Representatives in a left-wing San Joaquin Valley district that political analysts say could go to either party in 2022.

Candidate Elizabeth Heng challenged Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, in 2018 for a congressional district that overlapped much of this new one.

But thanks to redistricting, the once-a-decade redrawing of legislative boundaries, Costa presents itself in a district rooted in Fresno to the south of it. The new 13th congressional district, where Heng has announced she will run, is home to an election that could help determine whether Republicans regain control of the House, according to top election watchers.

“We need new faces with bold ideas to fight for the future of our community. We’ve been talking about the exact same issues in the valley for as long as I can remember, but nothing has changed,” Heng said when announcing his candidacy on Sunday.

Although the district — which holds Merced County in a stretch from Coalinga to Modesto — leans Democratic, members of the president’s same party historically don’t fare as well as members of the opposing party in congressional elections.

And there’s no incumbent running there; incumbents normally have an advantage over newcomers. Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, who could have run for the seat, shifted his campaign north when fellow Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney said he would not run in the Stockton-centric district in 2022.

Instead, Heng joins a crowded race with Republicans Matt Stoll, a former fighter pilot who is also running in the special election to replace Nunes, and Diego Martinez, a businessman who ran in the recall election. against California Governor Gavin Newsom. She takes on Democrat MP Adam Gray and former Nunes challenger Phil Arballo.

She also faces first-time candidates Angelina Sigala, Democrat and infectious disease expert, and Republican businessman David Giglio.

Heng founded The New Internet, which offers an encrypted internet browser that aims to increase user privacy, after advocating for the decentralization of Big Tech during its 2018 campaign for the House. She lost to Costa by a margin of 15% of the vote.

Heng, 37, is the daughter of Cambodian refugees who fled the Khmer Rouge regime. Growing up, she worked at their grocery store in Fresno.

She began her political career as the Republican Party’s Victory Regional Director for Oregon in 2010. She was a staffer in Washington, D.C., for former California Rep. Ed Royce, a Republican, and has served as his deputy campaign manager in 2012.

Afterwards, she became chief of protocol and outreach to members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Heng was appointed by the Senate Rules Committee as the director of congressional staff volunteers for Trump’s inauguration ceremony before he left Washington.

She graduated from Yale University and Stanford University.

Heng goes keep running for the seat vacated by Nunes when he left to be the CEO of former President Donald Trump’s social media company. The representative position for the current right-wing 22nd District will last about six months before Congress begins a new session with representatives from the new districts.

Its campaigns are based on the same platforms: strengthening infrastructure and access to water, promoting immigration reform, closing education gaps and tackling affordability policies for poverty. central valley.

“I have proof that I am not afraid to fight anyone, including tech giants, who try to silence our voices or promote policies that harm our community,” Heng said. . “It’s time to get to work.”

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Gillian Brassil is the congressional reporter for McClatchy’s California Publications. She covers federal policies, people, and issues impacting the Golden State from Capitol Hill. She graduated from Stanford University.

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