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Democrat TJ Cox increases lead over Rep. David Valadao in latest vote count from Kings County

Democrat TJ Cox increases lead over Rep. David Valadao in latest vote count from Kings County
Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) is now trailing by 506 votes in the race to represent California's 21st Congressional District. (Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call)

Democrat TJ Cox increased his narrow lead over Republican Rep. David Valadao on Wednesday in the country’s last undecided congressional race.

After the latest update from Kings County, home to just under a quarter of the registered voters in California’s 21st District, the three-term incumbent from Hanford trailed by 506 votes. At the start of the day, Valadao was behind by 436.

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A key development in the neck-and-neck contest will come Wednesday afternoon, when Fresno County — with a third of the district’s registered voters — releases another vote count. The tally there has so far been much more evenly divided than in strongly conservative-leaning Kings County.

Valadao, 41, has seen his nearly 4,400-vote election night lead slowly evaporate as election officials in the district’s four counties tally mail-in and provisional ballots, which tend to lean Democratic. Kings County, the only county in the district with a Republican voter registration advantage, had been a reliable source of votes for Valadao, but Cox took 52% of the votes in Wednesday’s update.

The district also contains parts of Kern and Tulare counties.

Should Cox hold on, Democrats would gain their seventh congressional seat in California and 40th nationwide, more than enough to take control when the House reconvenes in January.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee claimed victory in the 21st on Wednesday afternoon, before Fresno County updated its ballot count.

The largely rural House district in the Central Valley is one of seven in the state that Republicans won in 2016 even as voters favored Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump.

Democrats have already prevailed in the other six, picking up the seats of retiring Republican Reps. Ed Royce and Darrell Issa in Southern California and defeating GOP incumbents Dana Rohrabacher of Costa Mesa, Steve Knight of Palmdale, Jeff Denham of Turlock and Mimi Walters of Laguna Beach.

1:55 p.m.: This article was updated with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee claiming victory before Fresno County released its latest vote count.

12:25 p.m.: This article was updated with additional description of the 21st Congressional District’s boundaries.

This article was originally published at 11:35 a.m.

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