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California’s 13th Congressional District still up for grabs
Gray Duarte
The race for California’s 13th Congressional District between Democrat Adam Gray and Republican incumbent John Duarte is expected to be one to watch nationally, once again.

California’s new 13th Congressional District, which includes half of Turlock, has become one of the battleground races across the country that will determine if the GOP is taking over the chamber.

Democrat Adam Gray, who represents the state’s 21st Assembly District, is locked in a battle with Hughson businessman John Duarte, a Republican, to represent the 13th Congressional district.

The new District 13, which was created in 2021 by the state’s independent redistricting commission, includes downtown and the west side of Turlock, as well as some surrounding neighborhoods, and reaches up to Lathrop, down through Patterson and Mendota, and into Coalinga of Fresno County.

Gray took an early lead on Election Night, 52.2% to Duarte’s 47.8%. But by Thursday, Duarte had overtaken Gray with a lead of 50.1% to 49.9%.

Before Duarte could even think about a victory speech, however, Gray was once again leading and as of 4:25 p.m. Tuesday the Democrat was up by 761 votes.

“It’s better to be up than down,” said Gray campaign spokesperson Mike Lynch on Tuesday. “There are still 30,000 votes to count and by no means is it over, but we’re happy by the way it’s trending.”

Lynch confirmed that not only him but dozens of campaign supporters have spent the past few days constantly checking county election websites for the most up-to-date results.

In the most recent results, Gray was ahead of Duarte in Merced County 52.2% to 47.80%, in Stanislaus County 52.17% to 47.83% and in San Joaquin County 53.61% to 46.39%. But Duarte was in the lead in Fresno County 56% to 44% and in Madera County 56.88% to 43.12%.

Election results are updated throughout the canvass period as vote-by-mail ballots, provisional ballots, and other ballots are processed. Depending on the volume of these types of ballots, it may take up to 30 days for county elections officials to verify voter records and determine if ballots have been cast by eligible voters. The frequency of updated results vary county to county. County elections officials must report their final results to the Secretary of State by Dec. 9. The Secretary of State will compile the results and will then certify the results of the election by Dec. 16.

Duarte’s campaign declined to comment for this story on Tuesday.

Underscoring the tightness of the contest, Gray’s campaign formed a committee to begin raising money to finance a possible recount. Those costs, which are paid to county election officials, fall on the campaign committee or voter that requested a recount. Generally, such requests cannot be made until a month after the election.

Traditionally, candidates in very tight races are invited to attend the nonpartisan new member training, even if the results are still unclear. Both Duarte and Gray were in Washington D.C. on Monday for the orientation. 

It takes 218 seats to control the House. Republicans have locked down 216 seats so far, with Democrats claiming 205.

This is not the first time the Central Valley was host to a Congressional battleground race. In 2018, Rep. Jeff Denham and challenger Josh Harder faced off to see who would represent California’s 10th Congressional District, with results being too close to call on election night.

The high-profile race was targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee early on as part of their campaign to flip Republican-controlled districts over to Democrats, and following Harder’s victory over several other Democratic candidates in the primary, Denham on Tuesday defended his incumbency against the “blue wave” for the fourth straight election.

While Denham initially had a 50.4% to 49.6% lead over Harder at the end of election night, by that Friday Harder had taken the lead and by the office with a final vote count of 52.3% to Denham’s 47.7%.