SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California Trailblazers leadership congratulates five Trailblazer candidates who have the distinction of ‘Pathfinder’ and have advanced to compete in November. Trailblazers alumni also had an outstanding night, helping prevent Democrats from regaining the supermajority in the State Senate and achieving victory in a key Congressional race.

The five ‘Pathfinder’ candidates scored victories all across the state and in key districts. Two candidates in head-to-head matchups flexed their campaign muscles – former Assistant United States Attorney Bill Essayli beat incumbent Democrat Sabrina Cervantes, and Hanford city councilman Justin Mendes notched a victory against incumbent Democrat Rudy Salas.

“We are incredibly excited to see our ‘Pathfinder’ candidates advance to the general election. Our candidates’ victories last night show they are ready now more than ever to represent their communities in the legislature. We are particularly proud to see two candidates in head-to-head matchups come out on top,” said California Trailblazers CEO Jessica Patterson. “The California Trailblazers program looks forward to working with all five of these candidates to ensure victory in November.”

With five ‘Pathfinder’ candidates moving forward to the general election, their success continues to underscore the important role the Trailblazers program plays in electing qualified Republican candidates to the state legislature.

Trailblazers also recognizes alumni who scored significant victories last night. In Senate District 29, former Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang helped stop the Democrat supermajority in the State Senate in replacing recalled Democrat Senator Josh Newman. And in California’s 39th Congressional District currently held by Rep. Ed Royce, Young Kim won a strong first place and will advance to take on the Democrat in November in a race that will be crucial to maintaining the Republican House majority.

The victories of these alumni, as well as so many others yesterday, highlight how critical the Trailblazers program is to Republican success in California and the nation.

‘Pathfinder’ candidates advancing to the general election in November include:

Justin Mendes (AD 32) – Mendes, the son of Portuguese dairy farmers and a Hanford city councilman, has a track record of bringing jobs to the Valley. As city councilman, Mendes renewed the city’s commitment to public safety by leading the effort to build a new fire station and grow the local police force. Mendes has also continued to fight for greater job creation, bringing trusted employers like Costco to the region.

Bill Essayli (AD 60) – A former Assistant United States Attorney and Deputy District Attorney, Essayli’s background is in keeping communities safe. His career has included a bedrock of high-profile cases including the federal investigation of the deadly December 2015 San Bernardino terrorist attack and prosecuting a drug trafficking case involving smuggling narcotics from Mexico. Essayli volunteers as an attorney coach for the mock trial team in Corona for his alma mater, Centennial High School.

Frank Scotto (AD 66) – Scotto served the City of Torrance as its mayor and city councilman. As an elected leader in Torrance, Scotto improved city services and was central in building the city’s Veterans Memorial. As a business owner and leader of Frank Scotto Towing, Scotto’s hard work and vision built a company from a few employees to more than 70 individuals. Scotto has also served on many local non-profit boards, including as a founding member and first chairperson of the Torrance Police Foundation.

Tyler Diep (AD 72) – As the vice mayor of the City of Westminster, Diep was committed to public safety, prioritizing the hire of more police officers and authoring city ordinances to keep his community safe. Diep’s record and dedication to oppose tax increases earned him the distinction from the Republican Party of Orange County as its ‘2017 Council Member of the Year. 

Andreas Borgeas (SD 8) – Borgeas serves on the Fresno County Board of Supervisors, representing the cities of Clovis and Fresno. With years working in the Central Valley, including time as a judicial law clerk to former Federal Judge Oliver Wanger, Borgeas has extensive experience on important regional issues. Before being elected at the county level, Borgeas served a term on the Fresno City Council, where he won his election after knocking on every single door in the district. In addition to being an elected official, Borgeas is a professor of international security law at the San Joaquin College of Law, where his students benefit from his experience as a Fulbright Scholar and policy specialist fellow at the U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan. Borgeas is a member of the bar in both California and Washington, D.C.

Other Trailblazer alumni incumbents advancing to the top two include: Assemblyman James Gallagher, Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, Assemblyman Vince Fong, Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, Assemblyman Dante Acosta, Assemblyman Chad Mayes, Assemblyman Phillip Chen, Assemblyman Steven Choi, Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, Senator Pat Bates, Senator Janet Nguyen and Senator Jeff Stone. California Trailblazers will continue to coach candidates through the November election, ensuring they are well trained and funded.

The California Trailblazers Board of Directors, in conjunction with Assembly and Senate leaders and Republican Party leadership, has been working throughout the election cycle to train candidates and ensure they are prepared to run for state legislative offices and represent the GOP.

About California Trailblazers      

California Trailblazers aims to recruit and train Republican candidates who reflect California’s diverse population. The program is modeled after the National Republican Congressional Committee’s successful Young Guns program. For more information, please visit and follow @CAtrailblazers.

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