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This 13th Congressional District moderate gets stuff done



Toward the end of a recent debate jointly hosted by The Modesto Bee, The Fresno Bee and the Merced Sun-Star, candidates for the 13th Congressional District were given a chance to ask each other a question — a plot twist of sorts, after more than an hour of responding to journalists.

Republican John Duarte asked Democrat Adam Gray what he had accomplished for Stanislaus and Merced counties during his 10 years in the California Legislature. Duarte’s implication was clear: Not much. It backfired. Because the question gave Gray an opportunity to remind the live audience how busy he has been as an Assembly member — pouring millions into the Volt Institute to give young people job training with a fighting chance at a decent wage; helping a homeless shelter in Merced County (the 13th District stretches through parts of Stanislaus, Fresno, Madera and San Joaquin counties as well); landing $100 million to build Campus Parkway linking UC Merced to Highway 99; defending school funding. Time did not permit Gray to mention, in this particular answer, the medical school he is helping to establish at UC Merced, or the law enforcement funding he’s secured, or his valiant defense of our water rights; those were covered in other parts of the debate. But the message was clear: Gray gets things done. Now his turn to do the asking, Gray called out Duarte on his effort to rebrand himself as a moderate. Gray noted that Duarte had just spent an hour repeatedly scorning Democrats’ “green energy fantasies” and bashing, time after time, Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi. If Duarte can’t work with the president and speaker of the House, Gray asked, who can he work with? It’s a fair point. For seven years, Gray has belonged to the California Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of legislators. He chairs the New Democratic Caucus composed of moderates. His track record is one of collaboration to boost the Valley, and independence when Democratic leadership turns its back on our people. Gray has proven, year after year, that he gets the purple nature of this unique corner of the planet, neither solidly red nor blue. It’s why his list of endorsements includes strong conservative Republicans like Kristin Olsen, Anthony Cannella and Vito Chiesa. It’s why sheriffs of the 13th District — Jeff Dirkse in Stanislaus, Verne Warnke in Merced and Margaret Mims in Fresno, Republicans all — back Gray, not his Republican opponent. Asked which prominent Democrats endorse Duarte, he did not name one. SPREADING MISINFORMATION Duarte was given an opportunity to explain why, in another debate before the June primary, he erroneously said — twice — that “several leftist activists” had been arrested for setting wildfires in the Sierra Nevada “in order to draw attention to global warming.” He might have apologized for spreading hurtful misinformation, or at least acknowledged that he had made a mistake. Instead, Duarte doubled down, noting that “an adjunct professor” had been arrested. Almost none of what he said is true. Gary Maynard, a former Santa Clara University professor, was arrested for suspected arson near Mount Shasta, part of the Cascade Range; he had taught criminology and deviant behavior, nothing to do with climate change; he was not one of several, but acted alone. It’s commendable that Duarte Nursery (neither his home or business is in the 13th District) has employed hundreds of people since his family started the operation decades ago. Duarte’s grasp on water issues is impressive. When county leaders asked to use his nursery to vaccinate area farmworkers, Duarte answered the call. But it’s clear that one candidate has little interest in or experience with the kind of collaboration needed to heal rifts in our country, while the other has a long history of pulling people together. Adam Gray deserves your vote. This endorsement reflects the consensus of the editorial boards of The Modesto Bee, The Fresno Bee and The Merced Sun-Star.

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