Since the year he first ran for the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) has always had the support of his hometown newspaper, The Fresno Bee. As of this past weekend, that is no longer the case.
On Saturday morning, the Fresno Bee’s editorial board broke with longstanding tradition to offer their endorsement to his Democratic opponent in California’s 22nd District, Andrew Janz. Janz, who is seeking elected office for the first time, is currently serving as Fresno County’s deputy district attorney in the major crimes unit. Janz finished second in the district’s jungle primary, which Nunes won, 58-32%.
“Today, The Fresno Bee takes a step it has not made since before 2002: It is recommending a candidate for the 22nd congressional district who is not Devin Nunes,” wrote the editorial board.
Among the Bee’s reasons for supporting Janz was his willingness to “sit down and discuss the issues” with the editorial board, which Nunes has declined to do despite having received two invitations to do so. Nunes has lately been at war with the Bee after the newspaper published a story that revealed Nunes’ investment in the Alpha Omega Winery, which was sued in 2016 by an employee who alleged that she was forced to work on a charity cruise that featured drug use and prostitution.
In response, Nunes has referred to the Bee as “a textbook example of fake news.” His campaign went to extraordinary lengths to attack the paper, sending out a 40-page mailer to constituents that was devoted to savaging the Bee.
Corrected: The trickle down effect of Trump's war on "fake news:" Devin Nunes made a 40-Page (!) glossy mailer devoted to attacking the @FresnoBee. Also aired a 2-minute (!) TV and radio ad claiming the Bee is one on a “crusade” against him. https://t.co/PSmhonvv7v pic.twitter.com/UhfvVpy1D0
— Alex Seitz-Wald (@aseitzwald) October 3, 2018
Perhaps not surprisingly, the Bee’s editorial board has assailed Nunes in kind, citing his lack of accessibility, his vote for the American Health Care Act of 2017 — which, had it passed, would have immediately thrown over 74,000 Medi-Cal enrollees off of their health care coverage — and his unwillingness to compromise. Janz, by contrast, earns plaudits from the editorial board for his more moderate approach to politics. Janz, who is running without the support of the Democratic Party, “can act with a degree of independence from party politics and do what he thinks is best for the 22nd District,” the editors write.
Per the Fresno Bee’s editorial board:
Voters can also choose Nunes and remain stuck with the damaging partisanship he practices, the party-above-country mode that motivates him to protect President Trump from the investigation into Russian meddling more than meet his constitutional obligations as an independent arm of government. Then there is his lack of regard for the needs of his part of California.
Nunes is currently still the favorite in the election. As the Bee reported last week, the most recent poll conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, Institute for Governmental Studies found Nunes with a 53-45% lead over his Democratic rival — a safe enough margin a month before the election, but perhaps too close for comfort for an incumbent who has never failed to win less than 61 percent of the vote.