Republicans sign up Cardoza challenger

Republican efforts to grow the electoral map continue to bear some fruit, after they landed a candidate this week to face Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.).

Farmer and Turlock Irrigation District board member Mike Berryhill officially announced his candidacy Monday, and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) followed it up with a statement Tuesday praising Berryhill.

"Mike Berryhill is a lifelong resident of the Central Valley who understands what it takes to help his neighbors overcome the devastating 17. 6 percent unemployment rate that Cardoza's recklessly partisan record has inflicted upon them," NRCC spokeswoman Joanna Burgos said.

Berryhill comes from a known political family, including having two cousins in the state assembly and an uncle who served as the state's agriculture commissioner.

Cardoza's district has been off the radar since he won it with 51 percent in 2002. He hasn't faced serious opposition since then and has won reelection with at least 65 percent of the vote the last three cycles (including being unopposed in 2008).

The plurality Hispanic district leans Democratic and went 59-39 for President Obama in 2008, but it also went 50-49 for President Bush in 2004.

Cardoza defeated his former boss, Rep. Gary Condit (D-Calif.), in a 2002 primary after questions arose about the disappearance of a Washington intern Condit had had a relationship with, Chandra Levy. State Sen. Dick Monteith (R) challenged Cardoza in the general election, but he fell 51-43.

This race will be a tough one for Republicans, as Cardoza has plowed a pretty centrist record in an agricultural district. But if 2006 and 2008 are any indication, having a candidate at-the-ready for the right situation can only pay dividends.