Devin Nunes chose Donald Trump over voters. It’s an early Christmas gift for Fresno, Valley

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  • Donald Trump
    Donald Trump
    45th President of the United States
  • Devin Nunes
    Devin Nunes
    American politician

In a surprising goodbye, Devin Nunes finally admitted to the rest of the world something that has been long obvious to those of us who live in his district.

We’re neither Nunes’ primary focus nor concern. Haven’t been for years. And right now, the 10-term congressman has more pressing matters on his mind than those that come with his elected duties and responsibilities of representing our interests in Washington, D.C.

Nunes has larger priorities than the 718,617 little fish inhabiting California’s 22nd congressional district — a whale by the name of Donald Trump. Instead of ostensibly serving us, Nunes will serve as CEO of the former president’s new media venture, the Trump Media & Technology Group.

“Recently, I was presented with a new opportunity to fight for the most important issues I believe in,” Nunes informed us Monday, without filling in any specifics.

“I’m writing to let you know I’ve decided to pursue this opportunity, and therefore I will be leaving the House of Representatives at the end of 2021.”

Opinion

I’d like to thank Nunes for being so candid while, in two simple sentences, confirming my own and a lot of people’s suspicions about him.

Nunes couldn’t have been more clear. The “most important issues” he “believes in” do not include serving his constituents, and to get away from us he’s willing to step down a year before his term ends. Leaving district residents without representation until a special election can be held as well as potentially forgoing one of the most powerful positions on Capitol Hill.

As the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, Nunes would be in line for a powerful chairmanship — one that could greatly benefit the central San Joaquin Valley — if the GOP gains a House majority in the next year’s midterms.

But rather than follow in the footsteps of longtime Bakersfield-area Congressman Bill Thomas and deliver us a bunch of pork barrel spending projects, Nunes can’t be bothered.

Nunes’ allegiance to Trump wins out

Which only proves, once and for all, that Nunes’ allegiance to Trump runs deeper than any duty he feels toward the people he represents. Whether they voted for him or not. The man showed us his stripes.

It’s worth noting that on the same day Nunes’ leadership position at Trump Media & Technology Group was announced, news broke that the new venture was under federal investigation.

Meaning Devin should feel right at home. That is until Trump stiffs him (Nunes didn’t vote for paycheck protection, did he?) or utters the immortal words: “You’re fired.”

In trying to explain Nunes’ “retirement,” some political pundits will surely point to California’s proposed congressional redistricting map (showing a +5 Democratic lean in the reconfigured 22nd) and his shrinking margins of victory in recent elections as reasons he stepped away.

Perhaps. But I suspect Nunes still could’ve used his name recognition and campaign war chest to win re-election. If not in the 22nd, then certainly in the sprawling 10th District anchored by Modesto with a heavy GOP advantage. (The map is not final.)

Nunes’ departure leaves a massive scramble in his wake. State law requires a special election to be held no later than May, giving Republicans a solid shot to retain the district until the new lines go into effect on the November ballot.

State Sen. Andreas Borgeas, facing an unfavorable redraw that tilts the population of his district toward Kern and Tulare counties, is “strongly considering” a run, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Assemblyman Jim Patterson or Fresno County Supervisors Nathan Magsig and Steve Brandau do as well. Problem is, it’s likely to be a short-term gig.

Tricky path for Republican, Democratic hopefuls

Each of those local GOP stalwarts reside and are most associated with north Fresno or Clovis — areas contained within the sprawling 23rd district slated for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in redistricting.

Having the incumbent’s edge might not mean much if the new boundaries are radically different and don’t include your home base.

On the Democratic side, things are even more wide open. State Sen. Melissa Hurtado already represents many of the same communities in Sacramento, so she may have the inside track. But as I’ve previously surmised, there are multiple members of the Fresno City Council who may find the new lines to their liking. And so too might Rep. Jim Costa, who on initial maps is placed within the same district as Democratic colleague Josh Harder.

If nothing else, the next couple months in local politics promise to be fascinating.

This isn’t really the time for me to reflect on Nunes’ 19 years in Congress, except to emphasize that for the last several of them he has been of little to no use to anyone unless your family name is Trump or have a job booking segments for Fox News.

(I do recall Nunes being the only individual — politician, farmer, water manager, environmentalist — opposed to the San Joaquin River settlement that restored water and salmon in California’s second-longest river. Which tells you the type of individual he is.)

Instead, let’s wish Nunes well in his new endeavors. It must come as a great relief that he no longer has to pretend to be a farmer. And as we all know, Trump only hires “the best people.” Wink, wink.

Feels like the entire Valley just got an early Christmas present.

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