Duarte Wins CA House Seat 12/03 07:27
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Republican John Duarte defeated Democrat Adam Gray on
Friday in a new California U.S. House district in the Central Valley farm belt
that produced the closest congressional contest in the state this year.
With virtually all of the ballots counted, Duarte has just over 50% of the
vote. Gray conceded in a statement, saying, "I accept the results and have
called to congratulate my opponent."
"This was one of the closest races in the country. More than 130,000 ballots
were cast, and the outcome will be decided by just a few hundred votes," Gray
Duarte said in a statement, ""I promised our Valley families that I would be
their bipartisan champion in Washington, D.C. by fighting for food on our
tables, gas in our tanks, and water on our farms. That is exactly what I am
going to go there to do."
Earlier, Republicans regained control of the House. With Duarte's victory,
Republicans will hold 221 seats next year, Democrats 213, with one Colorado
race undecided and going to a recount.
The 13th District has a prominent Democratic tilt and a large Latino
population, similar to other districts in the sprawling farm belt region. But
the most likely voters tend to be white, older, more affluent homeowners, while
working-class voters, including many Latinos, are less consistent in getting to
That provided an opening for the GOP, despite the 14-point Democratic
Duarte, a businessman and major grape and almond farmer, was the top
finisher in the June primary. His priorities included obtaining adequate water
supplies for farmers in the drought-wracked state -- a perennial issue in the
Central Valley -- along with addressing inflation and crime.
Gray is considered a moderate Democratic state legislator. In a region
heavily dependent on agriculture, he's been critical of state water management
and puts water and agriculture at the top of his issues list. He has also
stressed his willingness to work across party lines, and promised to make
improvements in public safety and education.