While Rep. Devin Nunes is hiding from his constituents and reporters, his Democratic opponent is raising money to defeat him.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) is used to coasting to election victory. But a pile of scandals, both national and local, seem to be rattling the Trump loyalist this year. While Nunes deals with the fallout, his Democratic opponent, Andrew Janz, is raising money at a staggering pace.
In July alone, Janz raised nearly $1 million, reports the Fresno Bee. That sum was twice as much as any other Democrat in California during the same time period.
Elections experts at Cook Political Report still rate the race as "Safe Republican." But continued errors from Nunes, and more fundraising like this from Janz, could put the 22nd Congressional District in play over the next few months.
Even some of his constituents who have supported him in the past are turning on him.
"He went from a local man who knew everyone and about everything in his district to a Washington insider who is nasty," said Shirley Kirkpatrick, a citrus farmer from Exeter. "He used to be able to speak without being so nasty."
Nunes has easily won re-election since his first run for Congress in 2002. His closest general election margin was a 24-point victory in 2012.
But since Trump entered the White House, Nunes has loyally done Trump's bidding to the point of national embarrassment. And that is creating problems for him at home.
As far back as January 2018, the Fresno Bee — the very paper that endorsed Nunes eight times for Congress — called him "Trump's stooge." The paper blasted Nunes for caring more about fringe conspiracy theories than about the constituents in California's central valley.
Amy Shuklian, a Tulare County supervisor, says he has stopped fighting for the people he's supposed to represent and seems overly preoccupied "by the stuff with the Trump administration and Russian investigation."
Nunes is chair of the House Intelligence Committee, and has used that perch to mislead and cover up for the Trump administration.
In a memo Nunes authored earlier this year, he accused the FBI — without evidence — of engaging in major surveillance abuses during its investigation of the Trump campaign. Nunes was later forced to admit he lied to his own committee about the memo, and was further embarrassed after a memo by committee Democrats showed numerous flaws in the Nunes memo.
Nunes is also facing humiliation at home in California. A recent lawsuit highlights the fact that while Nunes likes to call himself a farmer, there is little evidence he actually is a farmer. Real farmers in his district are taking him to court to prevent him from calling himself a farmer on the November ballot.
Adding to his troubles are reports of extravagant campaign spending by the Nunes campaign. Nunes is treating himself to steak dinners, limo rides, and even thousands of dollars worth of basketball tickets to watch the Boston Celtics. (Fellow California Republican, Rep. Duncan Hunter, was recently indicted for illegal campaign spending.)
"Nunes' people keep calling the police wasting law enforcement resources," Janz wrote in a tweet. "This is not what 911 was designed for."
It's still a steep uphill battle for Janz, but Nunes is doing himself no favors by fighting with the very same press that used to endorse him, and refusing to engage with the people who used to vote for him.