|Member of the California State Senate
from the 16th district
August 10, 2013
|Preceded by||Michael Rubio|
|Succeeded by||Jean Fuller|
November 13, 1965 |
|Alma mater||Texas Tech University|
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
Vidak was born in Visalia to James Vidak, the Tulare County superintendent of schools, and Kathleen Vidak. The oldest of five children, he draduated 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.
2010 congressional campaign
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, in the closest race of Costa's entire Congressional career.
2013 state senate campaign
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. (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).
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. 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.
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. Vidak also wrote a letter to President Barack Obama asking for support, and was interviewed by Lou Dobbs on the Fox Business Network to further explain the crisis, its causes, and ways to solve it.
Vidak is running 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 is Luis Chavez from Fresno. In the June 3 primary, Vidak came in first with 61% of the vote ahead of Chavez.
|California's 20th congressional district election, 2010|
|Democratic||Jim Costa (incumbent)||46,247||51.8%|
|California's 16th State Senate district special election, 2013
Vacancy resulting from the resignation of Michael Rubio
|Democratic||Francisco "Frank" Ramirez||1,890||3.0%|
|Peace and Freedom||Mohammed "O" Arif||471||0.7%|
|Republican gain from Democratic|
|California's 14th State Senate district election, 2014|
|Republican||Andy Vidak (incumbent)||35,953||61.2%|
- Trygstad, Kyle (November 23, 2010). "Costa Holds Seat, Keeps GOP Pickups at 63". Roll Call. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
- California Journal Vol. XXVII, No.5 (May 1996) "The 1996 Primary: The Endgame Begins". StateNet Publications, May 1996.
- California Journal Vol. XXXIII, No.10 (February 2002) "Special Election Issue: Complete Ballot Analysis". StateNet Publications, February 2002.