Almost two weeks following the mid-term elections, Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) and Businessman/Farmer John Duarte remain fiercely close in vote totals vying for the U.S. House of Representatives office for District 13. Less than 1,000 votes currently separating them and 95% of the votes in as of Monday.
Both Gray and Duarte campaigned with intensity ever since the primary for the newly redistricted San Joaquin Valley District in June. Against all odds, Duarte managed to come in first, despite both Democrats and Republicans having split votes due to the number of candidates. Duarte managed to get 34% of the vote over Gray’s 31%, beating union-backed Democrat Phil Arballo who had 17% and Republican Businessman David Giglio with 15%.
Both candidates had charged speeches over water usage and the drought in the area, with Gray being experienced through water bills that have come through the Assembly and Duarte personally fighting the Government over water usage given to the farms and towns in the district while as a farmer. Both also suffered hardships in that area, with Gray being stripped of a chairmanship in the Assembly by Speaker Anthony Rendon for casting a vote giving more water to farmers, and Duarte being sued by the federal government and having to settle.
While water use was the largest issue on the campaign trail, issues such as homelessness, abortion, and housing also were prominent. The key to winning for both was Latino voters, with Democrats expecting to retain many voting Democratic for the win; with the GOP increasing Latino outreach in the district.
Long expected to be a close race, Duarte gave a strong fall push, with many predictions ranging from leaning R to leaning D and no clear cut winner. Gray came out early ahead by a whisker on election day, but almost two weeks of votes trickling in has evened that out. On Monday, with 95% of the vote in, Duarte is only slightly ahead, with 63,539 votes, or 50.3%, to Gray with 62,674 votes, or 49.7%. With 95% of the vote in, California’s 13th House District is now the closest race in the nation this year.
While neither candidate has commented recently on the closesness of the race, Duarte noted last week shortly after retaking the lead, “We’re feeling good. We like the direction is going. Every day we know so much more. Right now, we like what we see. We feel good about our position. And we’ll continue to follow it and hope hope it stays on track.”
Meanwhile, Gray has formed an FEC committee to raise money for a possible recount.
— Rob Pyers (@rpyers) November 14, 2022
With more vote totals expected to come from district counties on Tuesday and Wednesday, as well as all voted required to be counted by early December, a winner in the 13th may be decided soon, although experts note that that will likely be source of contention for the losing side.
“Republicans have been frustrated in the area because they have had a Democrat represent them for awhile under Jim Costa,” explained San Joaquin Valley pollster Juan Gomez to the Globe on Monday. “At the same time, there are a lot of Latinos and white farmers in the district who don’t feel like they are being represented. And, you know, the district has more registered Democrats, but those groups being left out and many other voters leaning right and not having a registered party really has made this race so much more closer than some predicted.”
“It’s now the closest House race this year. And even though the Republicans now have House control, for the people in this district, many are wanting a Congressman who hears them out. That’s why this race still isn’t decided. People want to feel represented in Congress. Badly. And we’ll know soon who it is, a farmer or a career politician.”
The District 13 race is expected to be decided soon.
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