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With a friendly Kings County resuming election counting after a brief pause, a return to Congress by David Valadao seems inevitable.

With the latest updates from Kings, Tulare and Kern counties, Valadao (R-Hanford) currently holds a 1,763 voter margin over Congressman TJ Cox (D-Fresno), or 5.05% of the overall vote.

GV Wire estimates 3,912 votes remain. That means, Cox needs 72% of those remaining ballots. Even in his best returns during this election counting season, Cox mustered 60%.

Valadao Encouraged by Trends

Valadao, in a social media message last week, seemed confident for a return.

“Today’s election update for #CA21 has been encouraging. While we continue to patiently wait for the remaining votes to be counted, I’d like to thank all those who have supported my campaign and helped us accomplish so much this year,” Valadao said.

While some media outlets have called the race for Valadao, as of Tuesday the Associated Press has not made that call.

If Valadao is certified the winner, he will pull off a feat that hasn’t happened in California in 26 years —regaining a House seat in a rematch after losing the prior election.

In 2018, Cox upended Valadao by 862 votes.

Congress 21 Fresno Tulare Kings Kern TOTAL Lead Percentage
Cox (D) 28,212 2,792 16,145 35,170 82,319 49.5%
Valadao (R) 29,988 2,782 26,374 24,938 84,082         1,763 50.5%
Last reported  Nov. 18, 12:33 p.m.  Nov. 23, 5:02 p.m.  Nov 23, 5:48 pm  Nov. 20, 3:37 p.m.
Estimated remainder in CD 21                                   –                                          80                         1,012                              2,820         3,912

Latest Votes Favor Valadao

Kings County reported its first returns since Nov. 6. A COVID-19 exposure pushed things back 15 days, then a power outage delayed counting for yet another day.

With its updates from Nov. 22 and Nov. 23, Valadao gained 58.4%, for a net total of 134 votes in Kings County. Approximately 1,012 votes remain.

A Monday update from Tulare County broke 56.2% in Valadao’s favor, for a net of 11 votes. Overall, Cox has 10 more votes in the county. About 80 votes remain.

Kern County has the most remaining votes, at approximately 2,820. It has been Cox’s strongest county thus far.

Fresno County has wrapped up its vote count, with only an unknown amount of cured signatures remaining (cured means a voter has the opportunity to fix a forgotten or unreadable signature on a ballot). The county anticipates certifying its results on Friday.

Kings County Nov 22, 23  New Votes  For Cox  For Valadao  Difference
                                802                                        334                             468                                134 for Valadao
41.6% 58.4%

Tulare County Nov 23  New Votes  For Cox  For Valadao  Difference
                                  89                                          39                               50                                  11 for Valadao
43.8% 56.2%

A Brief History on Returning Congressmen

In California’s history, there have been eight previous times that an incumbent congressman lost an election, only to return later.

Of those eight, five were rematches the very next election.

The last time it happened was in 1994, when Republican Frank Riggs regained his northern California-area seat from Daniel Hamburg, who won the 1992 election.

Rematch victories to return also happened to Julius Kahn (1904), Frank Havenner (1944), Norris Poulson (1946), and Clyde Doyle (1948).

Congress Incumbents who Have Lost and Returned

Congressmember Years Served Note
Brian Bilbray (R) 1995-2001

2006-2013

Lost to Susan Davis for San Diego-area seat; won special election in 2006 to succeed Duke Cunningham
Clyde Doyle (D) 1945-1947

1949-1963

Lost in 1946 to Willis Bradley for Oakland-area seat, but regained in 1948 rematch.
Frank Havenner (D) 1937-1941

1945-1953

Lost in 1940 to Thomas Rolph for San Francisco-area seat; won 1944 rematch.
Julius Kahn (R) 1899-1903

1905-1924

Lost to Edward Livernash in 1902 election; won rematch for San Francisco-area seat in 1904.
James McLachlan (R) 1895-1897

1901-1911

Lost to Charles Barlow in 1896 election for Los Angeles-area seat; won open seat to return in 1900.
Norris Poulson (R) 1943-1945

1947-1953

Lost reelection in 1944 to Ned Healy for Los Angeles-area seat; won rematch in 1946.
Frank Riggs (R) 1991-1993

1995-1999

Lost 1992 re-election to Daniel Hamburg for Northern California-area seat; won 1994 rematch.
John Rousselot (R) 1961-1963

1970-1983

Lost 1962 re-election to Ronald Cameron; won 1970 special election to return from a different district.

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