With less than three weeks until the primary, former California Assemblymember Rudy Salas is launching attacks on fellow Democrat Melissa Hurtado, going after her record on abortion rights as Democratic groups scramble to avoid being locked out of the November election for the swing House seat.

Salas, who came within 3,000 votes of knocking out Republican incumbent Rep. David Valadao in 2022, is hoping for a rematch for the Central Valley district. But a challenge from Hurtado, a sitting state senator, has put unexpected pressure on the primary — forcing party leaders to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in the last month to elevate Salas.

The new ad, which first appeared on Bakersfield televisions early Tuesday, is the first direct shot at Hurtado and highlights a poor rating given to her by NARAL Pro-Choice California, one of the leading abortion rights groups. In 2022 the group gave Hurtado a “D” for not voting nine times on legislation that would’ve expanded abortion access — a record that labeled her “hostile to reproductive freedom.” (Hurtado received an “A-” rating from the same group in 2023 and was then labeled a “reproductive freedom leader.”)

The ad comes just hours after the Democratic House Majority PAC launched a Spanish language ad highlighting Salas’ record on abortion rights.

“Voters in CA-22 should know there are real differences between the candidates for Congress,” said Kyle Buda, Salas’ campaign manager. “Rudy has always believed the government should not interfere between a woman, her doctor and her faith.”

Hurtado, in a statement, defended her record as a reproductive healthcare advocate — pointing to her time as an organizer for Planned Parenthood and a co-author of an amendment to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution. She also received 100 percent on Planned Parenthood’s lawmaker scorecard last year.

“Leave it to a man like Rudy Salas to lie about my record — a woman’s record — on reproductive freedom. He should be ashamed,” Hurtado said.

From Politico