Valadao, Duarte extend slim leads as ballots continue to come in

Over 200,000 votes have yet to be counted across the Central Valley, but the latest update Thursday evening signaled good news for two Republicans running for Congress. 

In Congressional District 13, the race between Asm. Adam Gray (D–Merced) and John Duarte (R–Modesto) is nearly as close as it can get. 

But Thursday’s update boosted Duarte’s ever so slight lead, giving the Republican a slim 50.2 percent to 49.8 percent edge. 

Duarte’s lead is now by 267 votes, up from 203 on Wednesday. 

Heading to the southern part of the Valley to Congressional District 22, Rep. David Valadao (R–Hanford) also saw more votes swing his way in the latest update. 

Valadao leads Asm. Rudy Salas (D–Bakersfield) by a 54.2 percent to 45.8 percent margin. 

That’s a slight gain for Valadao from the eight point lead he held on Wednesday. 

Valadao leads by nearly 4,000 votes, but the Kern County Elections Office estimates that there are still around 100,000 ballots to count in the county. 

With under 50,000 votes tabulated so far, the late-arriving ballots in Kern County – a heavy Democratic base in District 22 – could erase Valadao’s lead and send Salas to the nation’s capital. 

The third Central Valley Republican in a close race to hear good news Thursday is Senate District 16 candidate David Shepard (R–Porterville). 

Shepard saw his lead grow over Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D–Sanger) grow from 5.2 points to 6.8 points on Thursday. 

Shepard now leads 53.4 percent to 46.6 percent. But as with the Valadao-Salas race, the large number of outstanding ballots in Kern County could shift the results. 

The race for Assembly District 27 between former Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin (R–Merced) and Fresno City Councilwoman (D–Fresno) effectively remained the same with Thursday’s update. 

Soria gained 0.1 percent in the tally and now leads Pazin 50.4 percent to 49.6 percent. That amounts to a lead of 368 total votes.

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.