Originally published November 16, 2012 at 10:39 a.m., updated November 16, 2012 at 1:35 p.m.
Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Solana Beach, conceded defeat today to Democratic San Diego Port Commissioner Scott Peters in the close race for the 52nd Congressional District.
Peters led by about 3,875 votes as of Thursday afternoon out of about 269,000 tallied in the Nov. 6 election. About 120,000 mail-in or provisional ballots still need to be counted, according to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters.
"With the majority of votes counted, I would like to congratulate Scott Peters in his bid to serve the citizens of the 52nd Congressional District and the people of San Diego,'' Bilbray said, adding that he called Peters to congratulate him.
Peters said he has been working hard in Washington, D.C., preparing to get to work.
"I'm encouraged by the tremendous group of colleagues I've met here so far: freshman members of Congress, because like me, they all heard loud and clear during their campaigns that voters are tired of the partisanship, tired of politicians who put party over people,'' Peters said. "I look forward to working with everyone to get things done for San Diego and the American people.''
He thanked those who walked, called, contributed and gave their support, and said it was their energy and enthusiasm that helped him win the close race.
Bilbray and Peters agreed that although the campaign was hard-fought, it was time to put it behind them.
"While Scott and I differed sharply on how to handle the issues facing our nation, now is the time to put those differences aside and find common ground to address our country's many challenges,'' Bilbray said.
Bilbray, who represented the 49th Congressional District from 1995 to 2001 and the 50th Congressional District since 2006, had been a top target of Democrats for years. He survived previous attempts to oust him, however redistricting moved him into some unfamiliar territory for this re-election bid.
He said he took pride in his accomplishments in Congress, like having environmental bills passed and signed into law, protecting veteran benefits with the passage of a two-year budget cycle and protecting the Mount Soledad National Veterans Memorial.
"I endeavored to open my colleagues' eyes to the promise of renewable fuels that will one day curb our dependence on foreign oil. And finally, something very close to me, reforming the bureaucracy to get cures to patients faster and increasing medical research funding to one day turn cancer into a manageable disease,'' Bilbray said.
Bilbray said he would continue fighting for issues he believed in and that benefit San Diego, but in a different capacity.
"I look forward to finally having the opportunity to spend time with my family and seven grand kids,'' Bilbray said. "I wish Scott and his family the very best in his endeavors.''
Peters thanked Bilbray for his service and said he looked forward to his support as he transitioned into office.
City News Service contributed to the information in this report.