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Duarte leads in 13th Congressional race
• The count isn’t over but Duarte leads over Gray by 853 votes
Gray versus Duarte
Adam Gray and John Duarte are competing to fill California's 13th Congressional District seat.

Hughson businessman John Duarte, a Republican, has taken a vote lead in the race for the 13th Congressional district over Democrat Adam Gray in the most recent count.

But with the race being so close and more ballots to count, things are far from over.

As of Tuesday the California Secretary of State’s website showed Duarte ahead by 853 votes. Duarte had 64,448 votes (50.3 percent) over Adam Gray’s 63,596 vote count, or 49.7 percent. Additional ballots are still being counted. 

Gray represents the state’s 21st Assembly District.

The new District 13, which was created in 2021 by the state’s independent redistricting commission, includes Ceres, 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 percent to Duarte’s 47.8 percent. But by Nov. 10, Duarte had overtaken Gray with a lead of 50.1 percent to 49.9 percent.

If Duarte pulls off a victory it will be due to the support he found in Madera County where he was ahead of Gray 58.4 percent to 41.6 percent. Duarte was also leading in Fresno County, 55.12 percent to 44.88 percent. In the most recent results, Gray was ahead of Duarte in Stanislaus County 52.04 percent to 47.96 percent; in Merced County 52.2 percent to 47.80 percent; and in San Joaquin County 52.91 percent to 47.09 percent. 

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 from county to county. County elections officials must report their final results to the Secretary of State by Dec. 8. The Secretary of State will compile the results and will then certify the results of the election by Dec. 16.

Stanislaus County has finished processing provisional ballots, and conditional ballots. The Elections Division has also completed the one percent hand tally of the vote.

California law requires that if a signature is missing or does not match the voter be notified no later than eight days prior to certification of the election. A voter can return the notice up until two days before certification.

Duarte’s campaign declined to comment for this story.

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, Nov. 14 for the orientation.

Republicans have locked down 219 seats so far, one more necessary to control the House. Democrats have claimed 212 seats and won’t be able to retain control with only four more seats yet to be called. 

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%.

(Jeff Benziger contributed to this report).