Democratic newcomer Lourin Hubbard will advance to the June runoff election for California Republican Devin Nunes’ seat in the U.S. House, the Associated Press reported Friday.
Hubbard’s opponent will be Connie Conway, former California Assembly minority leader, who served on the Tulare County Board of Supervisors before being elected to the Assembly in 2008. The Republican has led the vote count since polls closed Tuesday night.
Neither candidate has filed to run for Congress in the fall, when district boundaries will change.
The latest results show Hubbard, a 33-year-old water resource manager, in second place. Trailing him are Democrat Eric Garcia and Republican Matt Stoll.
The winner of the June runoff will finish Nunes’ term, representing the 22nd Congressional District for the rest of the year. The San Joaquin Valley district currently encompasses a majority of Fresno County and parts of Tulare County.
Mail ballots were sent to about 415,000 eligible voters in the district; fewer than 3,900 voted in person. Ballots received by April 12 will be counted as long as they were postmarked by April 5.
Fresno and Tulare counties’ voter registrars estimated the special election cost at least $1.4 million.
Hubbard had expressed confidence Thursday that he would remain in second place and make it to the runoff vote, and said his campaign was planning town halls and fundraisers in both counties.
“It’s hard to articulate what this feeling is, because on the one hand, it’s crazy to think, ‘Yeah, I’m the guy,’” he said. “But on the other hand, just to know there’s folks out there that believe in your message and believe you’re the best person to represent them, it’s an incredibly humbling experience. I’m so grateful to have felt it.”
Conway, 71, said her team is already talking with constituents to ensure they understand the next steps and her platform.
“I think sometimes people may not understand your congressional representative is really our liaison to the federal government agency,” she said. “I really want to make sure the district gets the attention it deserves.”
With the once-a-decade redistricting following the latest census, nearly half of Nunes’ former district will become part of the new 21st Congressional District. The new 22nd District will encompass much of Kern County and parts of Tulare and Kings counties, but just a small section of Nunes’ old district.
First elected to Congress in 2002, Nunes championed the region’s agriculture industry and pushed back against environmental regulations.