|Member of the California State Senate|
from the 14th district
16th district (2013–2014)
August 10, 2013 – November 30, 2018
|Preceded by||Michael Rubio|
|Succeeded by||Melissa Hurtado|
|Born||November 13, 1965|
Visalia, California, U.S.
|Alma mater||Texas Tech University|
James Andrew "Andy" Vidak (born November 13, 1965) is an American politician and cherry farmer. A Republican, he served in the California State Senate, representing the 14th Senate District, which encompasses Kings County, as well portions of Fresno County, Kern County, and Tulare County in California's Central Valley. From 2013 to 2014, Vidak represented the 16th Senate District.
Vidak was first elected to the State Senate in a 2013 special election after the resignation of former State Senator Michael Rubio, and was re-elected in 2014. He sought re-election in 2018, but was defeated by Democrat Melissa Hurtado.
Early life and career
Vidak was born in Visalia, California to James Vidak, the Tulare County superintendent of schools, and Kathleen Vidak. The eldest 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.
2010 congressional race
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 52% of the vote against Vidak's 48%, with a total popular vote margin of 3,050, in the closest race of Costa's Congressional career up to that point.
2013 special election to the State Senate
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 50%, sending the race to a general election on July 23 between him and Perez. In the general election, Vidak defeated Perez with 52% of the vote compared to Perez's 48%. 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 during 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 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. In the June 3 primary, Vidak came in first with 61% of the vote ahead of Chavez. In the November 4 general election, Vidak defeated Chavez by a smaller margin of 54% to Chavez's 46%.
Vidak announced his third run for the seat, for his second full term, in March 2018. He is currently facing three Democratic challengers: Sanger city councilwoman Melissa Hurtado, Earlimart school board president Abigail Solis, and Ruben Macareno from Farmersville, who previously ran for California's 26th State Assembly district in 2016.
Tenure as State Senator
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.
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). He was also named "Legislator of the Year" by the California Small Business Association (CSBA) and the California Small Business Roundtable (CSBR).
In March 2016, Vidak introduced Senate Bill 976, which sought to extend the one-year ban on lobbying by ex-lawmakers to two years, and possibly up to four years, in an effort to curtail the revolving door effect. Later that same month, Vidak was credited with saving a woman's life by directing traffic away from a Sycamore tree with a breaking branch about half a mile from the Capitol, after he could hear the sound of the wood cracking. Due to his intervention, driver Tracy Courtney stopped her car just as the branch broke, crushing the front end of the car but narrowly missing her. Vidak credited the incident to Divine Intervention, saying: "I walked that direction for a reason I guess. God put me on that path and in that direction and I heard it."
In July 2017, Vidak spoke out against AB 398, an extension of the state's efforts to combat climate change known as "cap-and-trade," which included such measures as tax hikes. In his speech on the floor of the State Senate, Vidak said "I represent the poorest district in the state. I cannot, in good conscience, vote for yet another bill that will raise gasoline and electricity rates on the poorest of the poor." His speech received praise from Breitbart, which called Vidak's speech the most "eloquent" of all the Republicans who spoke out against the bill. The bill ultimately passed through the legislature with the support of seven Republicans in the Assembly, including the Republican Assembly leader Chad Mayes, and one Republican State Senator, Tom Berryhill.
In December 2017, Vidak drafted a resolution calling for the expulsion of Democratic State Senator Tony Mendoza due to sexual harassment allegations. The State Senate eventually voted to suspend Mendoza for 60 days in January 2018, and he resigned in late February.
|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
|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|
|Republican||Andy Vidak (incumbent)||54,251||54.1|
- http://vidakforsenate.com/biography/ Archived 2013-06-29 at the Wayback Machine.
- 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.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 21, 2014. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 6, 2014. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
- "Andy asks the Senate to let the people re-vote on High Speed Rail". California State Senate Republican Caucus. September 11, 2013.
- "Senators Cannella and Vidak Call For Investigation of EDD". California State Senate Republican Caucus. October 16, 2013.
- "Cannella/Vidak: It's Time to Pass an Essential Water Bond". California State Senate Republican Caucus. January 30, 2014.
- "Senator Andy Vidak's Open Letter to President Barack Obama". California State Senate Republican Caucus. February 11, 2014.
- "Federal government not doing enough for California's drought?". FOX Business. February 14, 2014.
- "Cal Chamber rates Valley legislators". The Business Journal. June 11, 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-06-13. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
- "Vidak Named 'Most Fascinating Person of 2014'". California State Senate Republican Caucus. October 21, 2014.
- "Small Business Groups Name Vidak 'Legislator of the Year'". California State Senate Republican Caucus. October 24, 2014.
- "Vidak Introduces Measure to Extend Lobbying Ban for Ex-Lawmakers". Retrieved May 31, 2016.
- "Central Valley Lawmaker Saves Woman From Falling Tree Limb". CBS San Francisco. Retrieved May 31, 2016.
- Allison Wisk (December 14, 2017). "State Sen. Andy Vidak drafts resolution to expel Sen. Tony Mendoza following harassment allegatons". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
- Taryn Luna (January 25, 2018). "Stay away, Senate tells lawmaker accused of harassment". Sacramento Bee. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
- Tim Arango (February 22, 2018). "Tony Mendoza, California Lawmaker, Resigns Over Sexual Harassment Claims". New York Times. Retrieved March 9, 2018.