Inland Congressional primary leaves Republican and Democrat on top

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An updated ballot count in the Inland Empire Congressional primary keeps Democrat Pete Aguilar ahead in the race for the second spot on November's general election ballot. Republican businessman Paul Chabot finished in the top spot on Tuesday.

Republican Lesli Gooch moved within 183 votes of Aguilar's second place spot after Thursday's update, improving her position from Wednesday when she was 390 votes behind.

With just 3,000 votes left to count countywide, Aguilar — mayor of Redlands — claimed a runoff spot and predicted he would win in November, saying in a statement: "It’s clear that people want a representative who will fight for middle-class families, to create jobs, improve our schools and protect Medicare and Social Security."

Also claiming victory was the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which dumped $85,400 into campaign mailers critical of Gooch, a former lobbyist and who hoped to win the seat of her former boss, Republican Congressman Gary Miller, who is retiring.

Democrats had targeted this seat in a district is heavily Latino and leans Democratic. The DCCC  announced Aguilar as the Democrat to support last year. In 2012, Aguilar placed third in the primary after a number of Democratic candidates split their party's vote, leaving Miller and another Republican on the ballot in the general election.

The San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters counted more than 32,000 ballots Thursday that could not be counted on Election Day, including 9,334 ballots in the 31st Congressional District, which encompasses the west end of San Bernardino County, from Rancho Cucamonga to Redlands. They were mail-in ballots that were dropped off at polling places, and damaged ballots that had to be copied before being counted.

Once the updated count was announced, another Democratic candidate, attorney Eloise Gomez Reyes, announced her support for Aguilar. She placed fourth. Former Rep. Joe Baca, a Democrat, placed fifth.

Party Candidate Vote Count Percent
R Paul Chabot 13,787 26.71
D Pete Aguilar 8,959 17.35
R Lesli Gooch 8,776 17.00
D Eloise Gomez Reyes 8,201 15.89
D Joe Baca 5,752 11.14
D Danny Tillman 4,463 8.65
R Ryan Downing 168 3.26
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