Valadao said he hopes to focus his first legislative initiatives on hydropower and other energy issues. He also cited immigration issues as a priority.
“I’m a very optimistic person,” Valadao said. “As a business person, I know you always face new opportunities.”
On a panel that rivals the appropriations committee for power, the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, Nunes continues to rise in seniority and has his eye on potential subcommittee chairmanships down the road. Denham, too, is looking at potential chairmanships. One possible opening this year is the subcommittee overseeing railroads, an intriguing position for anyone monitoring California’s high-speed rail program.
Minority members, likewise, look to their committee positions. Denham’s colleague on the House Agriculture Committee, veteran Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, could become a ranking member on a strong subcommittee, helpful in shaping an overdue new farm bill.
By happenstance, Valadao has taken over Costa’s old House office. By Thursday at noon, though the office walls remained bare, Valadao had hired most of his new staff, including chief of staff Tal Eslick and Hanford-based district director George Andrews. When this week’s festivities are over, Valadao’s wife and three young children will return to their California home while the freshman congressman will start the cross-country commute routine he’ll endure for at least the next two years.
“He is one of us, a regular citizen,” said Larry Serpa, a long-time friend and regional official with the Tulare office of Land O’ Lakes, Inc. “It just proves the American dream can still be lived.”