Democratic U.S. Rep. Ami Bera won his bid for a third term to represent a Sacramento, California-area district that national Republican leaders had targeted.
Bera faced a tough challenge from Republican Scott Jones, the Sacramento County sheriff who raised his profile by criticizing President Barack Obama’s immigration policies.
Election results updated Friday showed Bera widening his lead to more than 2 percentage points in California’s 7th district, which has been one of the most closely matched in the nation in each election since the boundaries were drawn in 2012. Bera has eked out a narrow victory each time.
“It’s been my honor to serve this community, first as a doctor and for these past four years as a member of Congress,” Bera said in a statement.
Jones said in a statement that it’s now nearly impossible for him to come from behind and he conceded to Bera. “Although there were difficult aspects of the race, I do not regret running and am extremely proud of the campaign that we ran,” Jones said.
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Bera’s father was sentenced to a year in prison in August for illegally funneling nearly $270,000 to his son’s campaigns. Ami Bera wasn’t charged and denied knowledge of his father’s activities, but Jones tried to tarnish him through corruption allegations.
Jones withdrew his endorsement of Donald Trump after a tape surfaced of the presidential candidate bragging about his advances on women. Bera attacked Jones over allegations that he made unwanted sexual advances toward a subordinate more than a decade ago. Jones denied the allegations.
Bera’s victory left just one congressional contest too close to call. Republican Darryl Issa holds a narrow lead in the 49th district north of San Diego.
Issa, the wealthiest member of Congress and a top foe of President Barack Obama, faces a tough challenge from Doug Applegate, a personal injury attorney and retired Marine colonel seeking office for the first time. Issa led Applegate 51% to 49% Friday.
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In the Central Valley, Heath Flora defeated fellow Republican Ken Vogel for an open seat in the state Assembly. The contest was one of just four legislative races that featured two Republicans. Under California’s election law, the top two finishers in the primary advance to the general election regardless of party.
Two state legislative races remained too close to call, including a crucial Senate contest in Southern California that will determine whether Democrats have a two-thirds supermajority in the upper chamber. Democrat Josh Newman trailed Republican Ling Ling Chang by about 1,400 votes. He was 5,000 votes behind earlier in the week.
Democrats already passed the two-thirds threshold in the Assembly. If they can get the same edge in the Senate, they can raise taxes and pass emergency legislation without Republican support.