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Melissa Hurtado


Picture of Melissa Hurtado
Date Party Office Votes Result
11-06-2018 Democratic SD-14 80942 Win
11-08-2022 Democratic SD-16 68460 Win

Candidate Biography:

Born: March 6, 1988 in Fresno, CA
Married: Gurbet Tekinbas (m. 2022)
Family: Esmeralda Hurtado (Sanger City Council, 2020-Present)

Previous: Vice President of Finance, California College Democrats
2016-2018: Member, Sanger City Council
2024: Primary Candidate for CD-22 (Lost; 14.0%)

  • CLOSE CONTEST: In the 2022 General Election, the SD-16 contest between Hurtado and David Shepard was the closest in the history of the California State Senate (in terms of percentage of votes separating the candidates). The day after the election, Shepard was ahead with 52.6% of the vote, growing to 53.4% on Thursday. Beginning on November 11th, Shepard's lead began to slowly fall, landing at 50.18% by November 21st. It wasn't until December 2nd (the Friday before the new state legislature is sworn into office) that Hurtado took a 12-vote lead over Shepard. At the start of the 2023-2024 legislative session, the State Senate took the unprecedented step of not seating either candidate. Hurtado was sworn into office on December 10th. On December 14th, Shepard announced that he had requested a recount by the county elections officials. After finding 10 additional ballots in the Kern County elections office, on December 19th a judge approved an extension to the ballot counting, raising Hurtado's lead to 22 votes. As of December 27th, Hurtado's lead had narrowed to 16 votes. By January 4th, Hurtado still led by 17 votes. After Kings County reported in their final numbers on January 5th, the gap had closed to 15 votes. On January 18th, Shepard conceded the election. Because the result of the election didn't change as a result of the recount, the revised numbers resulting from the recount will not be certified by the Secretary of State.
  • Hurtado's sister Esmeralda filed to create a campaign committee (to begin collecting funds) for an SD14 campaign in 2026 but closed that account in December 2022.
  • GEOGRAPHY: From 2019-2022, Hurtado listed her hometown as Sanger (Fresno Co.) and in 2023, she changed it to Bakersfield (Kern Co.)

Source: "As on December 27th, Hurtado's lead had narrowed to 16 votes" by David Taub, GVWire (12/27/2022)
Source: "Hurtado Grows Lead Over Shepard Before Recount Even Begins" by David Taub, GVWire (12/20/2022)
Source: "ELECTIONS: GOP State Senate Leaders Want to Block Hurtado Victory" by David Taub, GVWire (12/9/2022)
Source: "Hurtado Has 12-Vote Lead Over Shepard for 16th Senate Seat" by David Taub, GVWire (12/5/2022)