Republicans believe they have a rising star in David Valadao. He won a long shot assembly seat in a very Democratic district in 2010. Most of the district is in this congressional district. He was just named as part of the GOP Young Guns program.
Democrats thought they had a similar recruit in state senator Michael Rubio. When Rubio backed out, they tried to convince former state senator Dean Florez and former Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamonte. Neither committed. They finally settled on Fresno city councilman Blong Xiong, a Laos born Hmong. As expected Xiong has traveled the country to raise money from Hmong communities.
Unfortunately, the Hmong community and everyone else he represents on the Fresno city council is outside the congressional district. So is the city of Fresno. So none of his supporters can vote for him and he has to get votes in rural areas of Kings, Kern, Tulare and Fresno counties that are unfamiliar with him and possibly haven't any Hmong. This is an area where Hispanic/Portuguese candidates do well. Incumbent Democrat Jim Costa and Valadao are Portuguese.
Fellow Democrat John Hernandez, CEO of the Central Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, is also from Fresno. He's raised little money, but he's still earned the endorsement of Bakersfield.com.
It's tough for me to see Democrats winning here. They don't have strong candidates and they haven't done very well in the rural Central Valley in the past. The ratings experts originally had this as a toss-up district, but Cook, Rothenberg, and Sabato.