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Nov 14, 8:30 PM EST

Democrats still fending off congressional foes


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Two incumbent Democrats remained locked in close contests with Republicans trying to replace them in Congress after California counties released more vote totals Friday.

In Sacramento County, Democratic Rep. Ami Bera had a 697-vote lead over former Republican Rep. Doug Ose after new tallies were released Friday. The campaigns estimated that more than 5,000 votes were outstanding in the race.

Bera campaign officials said they believe Ose cannot overtake Bera, but he stopped short of claiming victory.

"We need to continue to let the registrar count the remaining ballots, and we know once all votes are tallied, we will win this election," Bera said in a statement Friday.

Ose's campaign noted that the contest, the most expensive congressional race in the nation, has been close since Election Day and that there are thousands of votes left to count.

"During this long process, we want to ensure the integrity of our voting system remains intact and that every legal vote is accounted for," spokeswoman Michawn Rich said in a statement.

In the Fresno area, five-term Democratic Rep. Jim Costa has a 700-vote lead over Republican Johnny Tacherra. A few thousand ballots are left to count in Fresno, Madera and Merced counties.

Election watchers had not expected that contest to be close. The Bera-Ose race, however, was seen as a prime opportunity for Republicans to pick up a seat, and it saw $19.6 million in spending, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks money in politics. Outside groups spent nearly $13.5 million to influence the race.

The California congressional delegation, the nation's largest at 53, currently includes 38 Democratic members and 15 Republicans. As of Friday, 37 Democratic members and 14 Republicans have been elected, with two seats leaning toward the Democratic incumbents.

In Southern California, two Democratic Assembly members were still fending off re-election challenges after the Los Angeles County registrar released new vote totals.

Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, of Torrance, was trailing Republican David Hadley. Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, of San Fernando, was 46 votes behind a fellow Democrat, Patty Lopez.

Meanwhile, Democratic Assemblyman Ian Calderon, of Whittier, was re-elected.

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