Local Election

TJ Cox now 447 votes behind David Valadao after Fresno County elections update

Gavin Newsom hits the campaign trail for TJ Cox for Congress

Gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom hits the campaign trail for TJ Cox for Congress and Melissa Hurtado for State Senate at the Democratic headquarters in downtown Fresno on Wednesday Sept. 12, 2018.
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Gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom hits the campaign trail for TJ Cox for Congress and Melissa Hurtado for State Senate at the Democratic headquarters in downtown Fresno on Wednesday Sept. 12, 2018.

THE LATEST: Cox now leading Valadao after Kern County update

A Fresno County elections update has moved Democrat TJ Cox to within 500 votes of Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, in California’s 21st Congressional District.

Cox now has 54,266 votes to Valadao’s 54,713 – a margin of 447 votes or four-tenths of a percentage point.

Monday’s update cut through about half of Fresno County’s 30,000 remaining ballots. About 15,200 remain. The next Fresno County update will be Wednesday.

Of the around 14,800 ballots counted in the latest Fresno County update, about 5,300 were in the 21st. Valadao’s lead in the county shrank to just 599 votes.

The race is one of only a handful of House contests nationwide that remain undecided.

The margin was 969 votes prior to the Fresno County update. Valadao ended election night with a nearly 5,000-vote advantage, prompting media and election analysts to call the race in his favor.

According to the California Secretary of State’s office, Kings County has 1,750 outstanding ballots remaining.

Valadao has thus far ruled Kings County, but his grip has slipped slightly in recent updates. He was previously pulling in about 66 percent of votes, but his margin fell to about 63 percent as of Saturday.

Cox is about eight percentage points down in Tulare County, which has only a few thousand voters in the 21st.

Kern County has 11,465 ballots left to count. It’s unclear how many of these votes will be in the 21st. A Kern elections official said the next update will likely be Tuesday or Wednesday.

Will there be a recount?

With a tight margin apparently on the horizon, a recount could be possible.

Cox’s campaign would not comment on a recount specifically, noting that there are still thousands of outstanding ballots.

The campaign has flooded social media and its email lists with requests for donations, even though the election was more than two weeks ago.

Spokesman Phillip Vander Klay said the campaign is still running much as it did prior to the election in order to ensure all votes are counted.

According to federal fundraising records, Cox’s campaign was more than $250,000 in debt as of Oct. 17.

That could make a recount tricky.

California does not have automatic recounts. A candidate must pay county elections officials to recount each ballot in the district.

In the 21st, that would mean a four-county effort, which may take a while. The counties would not have to count all votes – only those coming from precincts within the district.

In order to officially reverse a vote, every single vote in the district must be counted. This would likely cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Valadao had more than $700,000 on hand as of Oct. 17, but it’s unclear how much his campaign raised and spent since.

The Valadao campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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