Governor Gavin Newsom scheduled the special election for June 7, 2022, with the primary election happening on April 5. If no one receives over 50% of the vote in the primary, the top two vote getters will proceed to the June 7 election. The winner will serve until January 3, 2023.
“I gave it a lot of thought, and once I knew there definitely was going to be a special election I decided to run,” Conway said.
“I am super excited and every day I tell her to have fun with the election,” her husband – and former mayor of Tulare — Craig Vejvoda said.
Though Conway’s main concern approaching the primary is the deepening field of candidates, Vejovda’s is their family dog Jake who has become very attached to Conway.
Conway’s plan is to get Jake registered as a comfort dog in order to ease the anxiety and partisan tensions on Capitol Hill.
“The House floor could use an outlet for stress and something to unite around,” joked Conway.
While not entirely serious about Jake – yet – Conway is serious about representing her constituents. Despite the increasingly partisan politics in Washington, she says she is well versed on the minor and major issues that need to be handled by a representative.
Conway said constituents have everyday needs from help with passports to making sure veterans are treated fairly and being cared for.
“The work continues even though the 22nd Congressional District as we know it will not exist after November 2022 with redistricting. But the constituents still need representation. Some people might think it’s glamorous to head off to Washington DC. But I would consider it a privilege if the voters give me the opportunity to represent them,” she said.
In November, District 22 will be split between three districts: two will lean Democrat, and the third would likely be represented by current House Minority Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
“At this point in my life I am a realist,” Conway said. She says she has no desire to run in November 2022 election given the make-up of the new districts. Conway would be the only Tulare County resident in the race; other announced candidates reside in Fresno County.
Tulare County comprises one third of the district while two thirds is in Fresno County. Nunes has often said that if he ever lost the 22nd District, it would probably be the last time Tulare County had a representative in Congress.
Nunes told KMJ Radio host Ray Appleton on January 13 that would not endorse any candidate to fill his former seat.
“It’s best that I just stay out,” Nunes said. “There is no reason for me to engage in politics. May the best person win.”
The last day to file for the April 5 primary was January 20. As of publication time there were six declared candidates: three Republicans, including Conway, and three Democrats. The following candidates will be on the ballot:
- Small business owner Phil Arballo (D-Fresno), who lost to Nunes in 2020
- Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig (R)
- Elizabeth Heng (R), a Fresno tech CEO who lost to Fresno’s representative, Jim Costa, in 2018
- Eric Garcia (D), a disabled U.S. Marine who previously ran in the 2020 and 2018 primary. While he previously ran as a No Party Preference candidate, he registered as a Democrat after the 2020 election.
- Lourin Hubbard (D), an environmentalist from Bakersfield.
Conway started her political career as a Tulare County Supervisor from 2000 to 2008, and was elected to the California State Assembly from 2008 to 2014, serving as Minority Leader from 2010-14.
During her time as Minority Leader, Conway worked across the aisle with then-Governor Jerry Brown. When Brown would endorse or vote for fiscally responsible legislation Conway would say he “was channeling his inner Republican.”
In 2019, Trump appointed Conway as California’s state executive director for the USDA Farm Service Agency.
“Politicians are always accused of having special interests,” said Conway. “Well, my only special interest is the current constituents of Congressional District 22. They are paying taxes and they need representation.”
“I am absolutely the perfect person to finish out Devin’s term.”