Accompanied by Congressman Jim Costa, Perez, who's from Bakersfield, is trying to reach the majority of the voters in the 16th Senate District, who happen to live in Fresno County. But a campaign flyer, distributed in Hispanic neighborhoods, featuring the Virgin of Guadalupe, urged Latino voters to go to the polls on May 21st.
Perez told Action News it was meant to be a message of inspiration, that's been used before. "Historically, Cesar Chavez and our own Governor Brown have used images that for the Central Valley spark a sense of hope."
But someone was offended and contacted the Fresno Archdiocese to complain that it appeared she had the endorsement of the church. The church responded with a statement saying: "The Diocese of Fresno does not participate or intervene in a political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate."
Political Science Professor, Dr. Thomas Holyoke of Fresno State University notes politics and religion are getting mixed a lot these days, but found Perez' flyer a bit strange. "I mean, it's a little odd to say the claim that the Virgin of Guadalupe is endorsing Leticia Perez. How can we prove that?"
Neither the Republican Party, or their candidate Andy Vidak are making this an issue. They won't comment. Holyoke doesn't think the Virgin of Guadalupe will be a factor in the campaign.
Holyoke said, "Basically whoever does the best ground game organization going to win this thing, or at least make it into the top two."
There are 5 candidates in this race. If there is not an outright winner in the May vote, the top two candidates will face off again in July.
As to the Virgin of Guadalupe, Perez says using her in the campaign was a mistake.
Perez said, "Certainly didn't mean to cause any offense and I'm going to apologize deeply and not do that again."