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Sen. Melissa Hurtado files to run for congressional seat in 2024

State Senator Melissa Hurtado stands in a green park for a portrait.
Melissa Hurtado Campaign Website
State Sen. Melissa Hurtado filed paperwork this week to run in California's hotly contested 22nd Congressional District. The two-term Democrat has yet to officially announce a campaign that would put her on a collision course with fellow Democrat Rudy Salas in the March Primary.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A familiar face has filed paperwork to run in one of the nation’s most hotly contested congressional seats, setting up a Valley race to be another nail-biter.

State Sen. Melissa Hurtado is considering a bid for California’s 22nd Congressional District.

The two-term Democrat filed her paperwork a week after Democrat Rudy Salas announced his own campaign.

Republican David Valadao fought a tough race to continue representing the Valley in Congress. He beat Salas, who is a former Democratic assemblyman, by just three percentage points last year.

Hurtado won her second term in the state legislature by an even closer margin – just 13 votes. If she hopes to leave Sacramento for Washington, she would have to beat Salas in the primary.

Hurtado has yet to officially launch her campaign. A spokesperson says she is “pursuing support for a potential run.”

The district skews heavily Democrat on paper but has remained a challenge for California Democrats.

The presidential election – and its higher voter turnout – could boost any Democratic nominee on the ballot.

Joshua Yeager is a Report For America corps reporter covering Kern County for KVPR.