The First Campaign Ad Against Devin Nunes Doesn’t Mention Two Big Things

A Democratic challenger plays it safe.

Credit: Andrew Janz for Congress

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

This morning, Andrew Janz, a 34-year-old Fresno prosecutor aiming to unseat Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), launched his first television ad in the closely-watched race in California’s Central Valley. Though Janz has hit hard at Nunes in the past, the new spot doesn’t mention his opponent once. Instead, the 30-second clip touts his history as a prosecutor who has put “violent criminals and gang members behind bars” and says he will “take on political corruption” in Washington. It also does not mention that Janz is a Democrat.

The ad’s only dig at Nunes is subtle. “It’s time for leaders who put people before their political careers,” says the narrator, ostensibly referring to Nunes, who has grabbed headlines as he’s used his role as the chair of the House intelligence committee to defend President Donald Trump. The Fresno Bee‘s editorial board has called him “Trump’s stooge.” Last week, Nunes threatened to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt of Congress because the Justice Department declined to turn over classified material related to the ongoing Russia investigation. 

Janz is likely to make it past the June 5 “jungle primary,” but after that, he’ll be running against Nunes in what has historically been an overwhelmingly Republican-dominated district in California’s Central Valley. Nunes has won seven of his eight elections with more than two-thirds of the vote. At the end of March, several political forecasting websites ranked the district “safe Republican.” 

But cracks are appearing in that wall. When Nunes released his much anticipated memo alleging that the FBI abused its surveillance powers while investigating the Trump campaign, Janz raked in $164,000 in donations in the two days that followed. His total for the year is now up to $1.4 million—including $600,000 from February alone. (Nunes has more than $4.5 million in cash on hand.) In part because of this, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a political forecasting website run out of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, downgraded the district to “likely Republican” at the end of April.

In February, Tom Holyoke, a professor of political science at Fresno State University, told Mother Jones that in the past, Democrats tended to only run candidates of “the sacrificial lamb variety” in the 22nd district. In Janz, he saw something different, a candidate with crossover appeal who “actually could potentially give Nunes a run for his money.” Janz’s first ad suggests that he’s not making the race about flipping the district, at least for now.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate