Following a fresh round of ballot-counting, Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar on Thursday claimed the second place on the fall ballot to succeed Rep. Gary Miller (R-Rancho Cucamonga).
Most observers concluded there are not enough ballots left to deny Aguilar, a Democrat, the opportunity to compete Nov. 4 with Republican military veteran Paul Chabot.
With Thursday’s update, Aguilar had 17.35% of the vote, with his closest competitor winning 17% and only a few ballots remaining to be counted.
Chabot placed first in Tuesday’s primary balloting, with 26.8%, but the race for second place was too close to call on election night.
Miller aide Lesli Gooch, a Republican, and Colton attorney Eloise Gomez, a Democrat, were in close contention with Aguilar for the second place on the fall ballot.
Under the state’s relatively new elections system, all the candidates for a post appear on a single ballot and only the first-and second-place finishers, regardless of party affiliation, can advance to the general election.
Aguilar narrowly missed the runoff in 2012 when he splintered the vote with three other Democrats and two Republicans, including Miller, advanced.
The Inland Empire’s 31st Congressional District is increasingly tilting Democrat and party leaders hope to flip the seat to their party this fall.
Reyes issued a statement congratulating Aguilar, to whom she offered “my full support.”
“I am going to work hard to help him get elected because the stakes are important,” Reyes said in a statement Thursday.
Rep. Steve Israel (D-New York), chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, issued a statement late Thursday congratulating Aguilar, whom the committee recruited to try again soon after GOP won the seat in 2012.