Hint of future Valley races

FRESNO -- If you showed up at Monday's Central California Labor Council's 22nd annual Labor Day breakfast looking for fireworks between potential Congressional candidates Dean Flórez and Michael Rubio, you would have been disappointed.

The intriguing matchup in the newly redrawn 21st Congressional District, which occupies most of what is Rep. Jim Costa's current district, could be one of the most interesting campaigns because:

The district is 49 percent Latino. Costa will be running in the 16th district, which stretches north into Merced County.

Flórez, the former state Senator from Shafter, served as a mentor for Rubio, who succeeded him in the state Senate.

Both are Latino Democrats who can could become the first Latino elected to Congress north of the Tehachapi Mountains. The winner could certainly be assured of a long career in Congress because there are no term limits.

Even though neither has made an official announcement, both acted like candidates on Monday.

"What we need in the nation's Capitol is someone willing to fight," said Flórez, who spoke shortly after Costa at the breakfast held at the Fresno fairgrounds. "We need people in the Congress who will back the president."

Flórez pointed to his 12 years in the state Assembly and Senate, starting with a victory over an incumbent Republican Assemblymember.

Flórez's mother, Fran, lost the Assembly race to David Valadeo, who could be a potential Congressional opponent for Flórez or Rubio.

Rubio -- who was cheered by supporters sporting blue T-shirts that read 'Vote for Rubio' -- said the breakfast was intended to honor union members and supporters.

"This day is really about you," said Rubio, who lobbied for support of state legislation designed to prohibit cities and counties from passing Wisconsin-style laws that ban or severely limit collective bargaining for government workers.

The rally also featured talks by Assemblymember Henry T. Perea, Fresno City Councilmember Sal Quintero, and, Bakersfield City Councilmember Rudy Salas, who is expected to run for the Assembly seat held by Valadeo.