GOP’s Duarte Wins Valley House Seat by a Whisker Over Gray - GV Wire - Explore. Explain. Expose
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GOP’s Duarte Wins Valley House Seat by a Whisker Over Gray

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Republican John Duarte of Modesto edged Democrat Adam Gray of Merced in California's closest congressional race this year. (AP File)
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After the Associated Press called the razor-tight race in California’s 13th Congressional District in favor of Republican farmer John Duarte on Friday, his Democratic opponent conceded.

With virtually all of the ballots counted, Duarte has just over 50% of the vote in the race to represent the heart of the San Joaquin Valley.

“I accept the results and have called to congratulate my opponent,” Democrat Adam Gray said in a statement. “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.”

Duarte Spells Out a Bipartisan Path

With the victory, Duarte vowed to be a bipartisan representative.

“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,” said Duarte, 56, of Modesto. “That is exactly what I am going to go there to do.”

Duarte also said that he would network with Rep. David Valadao, the Hanford dairyman and a Republican who also represents a district where Democrats outnumber the GOP.

With Duarte’s win, 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 and Gray’s name identification from serving in the state Assembly since 2012.

‘I Will Never Stop Fighting for the Valley,’ Gray Says

Gray, 45, also teaches at UC Merced.

“Whether elected or not, I will never stop fighting for the Valley,” he said.

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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