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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 
the polls.

   That provided an opening for the GOP, despite the 14-point Democratic 
registration advantage.

   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.

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