Andy Vidak

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Andy Vidak
Member of the California State Senate
from the 14th district
16th district (2013–2014)
Incumbent
Assumed office
August 10, 2013
Preceded by Michael Rubio
Personal details
Born (1965-11-13) November 13, 1965 (age 49)
Visalia, California
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Residence Hanford, California
Alma mater Texas Tech University
Profession Cherry farmer

James Andrew "Andy" Vidak is an American politician and cherry farmer. A member of the Republican Party, he is a California state senator who has represented California's 16th State Senate district and now represents the 14th district.

Early life and career[edit]

Vidak was born in Visalia to James Vidak, the Tulare County superintendent of schools, and Kathleen Vidak. The oldest of five children, he graduated from Redwood High School in 1984 and then attended College of the Sequoias in Visalia and California State University, Fresno before receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Business from Texas Tech University. He returned to the San Joaquin Valley to work in the produce industry before opening his own cherry farm outside Hanford in 1997.[1]

Politics[edit]

2010 congressional campaign[edit]

In the 2010 midterm elections, Vidak announced his intention to run for Congress in California's 20th congressional district, challenging longtime incumbent Democrat Jim Costa. The race was too close to call on election night and was only settled three weeks after Election Day. Costa ultimately won reelection with 51.8% of the vote against Vidak's 48.2%, with a total popular vote margin of 3,050,[2] in the closest race of Costa's entire Congressional career.

2013 state senate campaign[edit]

Following the sudden resignation of incumbent Democrat Michael Rubio on February 22, 2013, the 16th State Senate seat was left vacant and a special election was called.

Vidak's main challenger in the election was Leticia Perez, a former criminal defense attorney and supervisor of Kern County's 5th district. In the May 21 primary election, Vidak appeared to win outright with over 52% of the vote, but enough late absentee and provisional ballots counted in the next few days favored Perez and pushed Vidak down to 49.8%, sending the race to a general election on July 23 between him and Perez. In the general election, Vidak defeated Perez with 51.9% of the vote compared to Perez's 48.1%. The popular vote margin between the two was 3,084, just barely higher than the same margin by which Vidak lost to Jim Costa three years earlier.

Vidak's win marked the first time since 1996 in which the winning state Senate candidate of a special election was not from the same party as the incumbent. It is also marked the first time that a Republican took a Democratic State Senate seat since 1993, and the 8th time overall (in regards to special elections). It was also the first time in 18 years that the 16th district has seen a Republican State Senator, since Phil Wyman represented the district briefly from 1993-95.[3] (Then assemblyman Costa beat Wyman in 1994 and served until being termed out in 2002. He was succeeded by Democratic assemblyman Dean Florez who served from 2002 to 2010).[4]

Tenure[edit]

Vidak was sworn-in on August 10, 2013.

On September 11, 2013, Vidak asked for the Senate to vote on whether or not the people of California should be allowed to revote on the High-Speed Rail project due to a sharp increase in prices and costs of the project. The effort failed due to 24 Democrats voting against it, while 11 Republicans voted in favor.[5] Vidak has continued his efforts to delay, defund, or hold a revote on the project throughout his time in the Senate.

On October 16, 2013, Vidak joined fellow Senator Anthony Cannella of the 12th district in calling for an investigation into the California Employment Development Department after it ceased providing unemployment benefits to over 150,000 Californians and closed several offices in Turlock and Los Banos.[6]

In response to Governor Jerry Brown's declaration of a state of drought for California, Vidak joined with Senator Cannella once again to pass legislation geared towards storage and protection of water throughout the state. On January 30, 2014, they announced the result as Senate Bill 927, which would put a water bond on the November 2014 ballot that would include efforts to store and protect clean water and clean already-contaminated water, at a cost of $9.2 billion.[7] Vidak also wrote a letter to President Barack Obama asking for support,[8] and was interviewed by Lou Dobbs on the Fox Business Network to further explain the crisis, its causes, and ways to solve it.[9]

In June 2014, Vidak was one of five State Senators who was awarded a perfect score by the California Chamber of Commerce for voting against Senate bills that were identified as "job-killers."[10]

In October 2014, Vidak was named the "Most Fascinating Person of 2014" by the Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CBVI) and the Advanced Center for Eyecare (ACE).[11] He was also named "Legislator of the Year" by the California Small Business Association (CSBA) and the California Small Business Roundtable (CSBR).[12]

2014 election[edit]

Vidak ran for reelection, for his first full term, in November 2014. By the time of the primary, the 16th district was redrawn into the 14th district. His sole Democratic challenger was Luis Chavez from Fresno.[13] In the June 3 primary, Vidak came in first with 61% of the vote ahead of Chavez.[14] In the November 4 general election, Vidak defeated Chavez by a smaller margin of 55.5% to Chavez’s 44.5%.[15]

Electoral history[edit]

California's 20th congressional district election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jim Costa (incumbent) 46,247 51.8%
Republican Andy Vidak 43,197 48.2%
Totals 89,444 100.0%
Democratic hold
California's 16th State Senate district special election, 2013
Vacancy resulting from the resignation of Michael Rubio
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Andy Vidak 31,610 49.8%
Democratic Leticia Perez 27,854 43.9%
Democratic Francisco "Frank" Ramirez 1,890 3.0%
Democratic Paulina Miranda 1,623 2.6%
Peace and Freedom Mohammed "O" Arif 471 0.7%
Totals 63,448 100.0%
General election
Republican Andy Vidak 42,224 51.9%
Democratic Leticia Perez 39,140 48.1%
Totals 81,364 100.0%
Republican gain from Democratic
California's 14th State Senate district election, 2014
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Andy Vidak (incumbent) 35,953 61.2%
Democratic Luis Chavez 22,771 38.8%
Totals 58,724 100.0%
General election
Republican Andy Vidak (incumbent) 41,842 55.5%
Democratic Luis Chavez 33,514 44.5%
Totals 75,356 100.0%
Republican hold

References[edit]

External links[edit]