'Political free-for-all' as Rep. Nunes retiring for CEO role at Trump social media company

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Valley Congressman Devin Nunes is leaving the House of Representatives in favor of the top job at Donald Trump's social media company.

Nunes won ten terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and usually by large margins in a Tulare County and eastern Fresno County district with a strong Republican lean, according to the Cook Partisan Voter Index.

"He's one of the most famous congressmen in the country of course and he's been great here," said Fresno County Republican party chair Fred Vanderhoof. "He's been so solid and so stalwart, consistent and a defender of our freedoms and an excellent spokesperson for conservative values."

Local Democrats criticized Nunes, saying he showed "very little interest in the constituents of District 22 and has refused to hold town halls. He has been engaged in national polarizing politics."

RELATED: Devin Nunes to resign from Congress by end of 2021, will head Trump media company

Nunes became one of Donald Trump's key allies in Congress, and he'll become CEO at the former president's upstart social media company next month.

Political analyst Mark Keppler says the job will likely be very lucrative, but redistricting may have also played a big role in the decision to leave Congress.

"It was likely the way the districts are being reconfigured, it was likely that his new district was going to go from a +5% for Trump to a +9 for Biden," Keppler said. "He would've had an extremely difficult time winning that district."

Keppler says the rare, local congressional opening could be very attractive to politicians from both parties.

"It probably will be a political free-for-all with all kinds of folks who want to run for that seat," he said.

Republicans Andreas Borgeas, Nathan Magsig, Garry Bredefeld, and Jim Patterson confirmed to Action News they're considering joining the race.

Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp tells us she's being pressured to run.

The political website California Target Book lists Devon Mathis, Steve Brandau, and Shannon Grove as potential candidates.

Democrats Phil Arballo, Eric Garcia, and Lourin Hubbard had already announced their candidacies for the primary election.

But this district is likely headed for a special election even before the June 2022 primary.

Nunes didn't give a last day, but said he'd retire by the end of this month.
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