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Andy Vidak wins Central Valley Senate seat

SACRAMENTO — In a rare bit of good news for the California GOP, the Democratic candidate in a Central Valley legislative race has conceded to her Republican rival.

Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez announced that she had lost to Hanford Republican farmer Andy Vidak in a hard-fought special election for a state Senate seat. Spending in the contest topped $5 million.

"This campaign is over. Andy has earned the right to represent us in Sacramento," Perez said in a statement Wednesday. "I look forward to him delivering on his promises to create jobs, improve our economy and deliver fresh, reliable water to our farms and families."

Perez would have to win more than 80% of the remaining provisional and absentee ballots to overcome Vidak's 5,800-vote advantage.

Even with the loss of the District 16 seat, last held by Democrat Michael Rubio, the dominant party still holds a two-thirds supermajority in the state Senate.

Rubio resigned abruptly earlier this year to become a government affairs manager for Chevron Corp.

In another special election Tuesday, Ontario Mayor Paul Leon was the top vote-getter among eight candidates to fill the seat in Assembly District 52. Leon, a former Republican, now without a party registration, will face Democratic Pomona Councilman Freddie Rodriguez in a September runoff. A Democratic win would restore the party's supermajority in the Assembly.

Although Rodriguez finished second Tuesday, he will be the front-runner for the fall. He and five other Democrats split more than 60% of the vote in this solidly Democratic San Bernardino County district.

The seat came open when Norma Torres (D-Pomona) was elected to the state Senate earlier this year.

anthony.york@latimes.com

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