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DeMaio Ahead By 752 Votes Over Peters; Late Mail, Provisional Ballots Still To Be Counted

Photo caption:

Photo by Angela Carone

Carl DeMaio at the U.S. Grant in downtown San Diego, Nov. 4, 2014.

With 100 percent of the votes counted — except for late mail and provisional ballots — Republican challenger Carl DeMaio holds a slim lead over freshman Democratic Rep. Scott Peters.

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Election Results

UPDATE 8:20 a.m., Nov. 5: DeMaio Ready To Take 52nd; Votes Still Being Counted

On Wednesday morning, DeMaio held a news conference to address the public on the still-tight race for the 52nd Congressional District. At the time of the conference, DeMaio was ahead by 752 votes. “We will prevail,” he said. The campaign that saw national attention was “very negative and painful,” he added.

“I seek not to be the voice of Republicans in Congress,” he said, “but I also want to be the voice of the Democrats, and all who did not vote for me.”

UPDATE 1:08 a.m., Nov. 5: DeMaio Wins — Maybe; Peters Could Still Prevail

With 100 percent of the votes counted — except for late mail and provisional ballots — Republican challenger Carl DeMaio holds a slim lead over freshman Democratic Rep. Scott Peters.

U-T San Diego tweeted that polling firm Competitive Edge says as many as 50,000 provisional and late mail-in ballots are still to be counted in the District 52 race. Hard to call anybody a winner yet.

Two years ago, when Peters defeated Republican incumbent Brian Bilbray, he was up by 685 votes before the late mail-in and provisional ballots were counted. Peters wound up winning by 6,992 votes.

UPDATE: 12:58 a.m., Nov. 5: DeMaio Still In Lead; Will Late Mail, Provisional Ballots Decide Election?

With 99.8 percent of the votes counted, Republican challenger Carl DeMaio's holds a slim lead of 50.28 percent to 49.72 percent over freshman Democratic Rep. Scott Peters.

DeMaio is 795 votes ahead of Peters.

UPDATE: 12:50 a.m., Nov. 5: Here's Some Quotes From Both Candidates ... While We Await More Returns

From DeMaio, in addressing sexual harassment allegations made against him in the final weeks of the campaign:

"I've also, particularly in the past several weeks, received such amazing support and love from San Diegans who reject the politics of personal destruction. They don't want smears, they want solutions."

From Peters:

"I want to put my energy into fixing our economy, creating new jobs through investments in biotechnology, high tech and other innovative new sciences. I want to continue to protect a woman's right to choose her own healthcare."

From DeMaio:

"San Diegans are sick of the division and dysfunction in Washington. They want less fighting and more fixing."

From Peters:

"We're going to continue to lead from California, and work to do those things that we think are important through job creation, standing up for a women's rights to make their own healthcare decisions, making sure you can marry who you love and not get fired for who you are, and make sure we stand behind our veterans who stood up for us."

UPDATE: 12:07 a.m., Nov. 5: DeMaio Picks Up Votes In Latest Count

With 90 percent of the votes counted, Republican challenger Carl DeMaio's holds a slim lead of 50.28 percent to 49.72 percent over freshman Democratic Rep. Scott Peters.

Now 762 votes separate the two.

UPDATE: 11:30 p.m: Peters Gaining Ground With Each Vote Count

With 70 percent of the votes counted, Republican challenger Carl DeMaio's holds a slim lead of 50.17 percent to 49.83 percent over freshman Democratic Rep. Scott Peters.

But DeMaio's lead shrunk to 415 votes in the latest returns.

UPDATE: 11:10 p.m: DeMaio's Slim Lead Shrinking In Latest Returns

With 61 percent of the votes counted in the 52nd Congressional District, Carl DeMaio is ahead of incumbent Scott Peters by 933 votes. Both candidates have told supporters to not lose faith and prepare for a long night.

Read their quotes below.

UPDATE: 11:05 p.m.: Carl DeMaio: 'We shall prevail'

GOP challenger spoke to supporters at the U.S. Grant Hotel about 11 p.m. He was confident, despite the close race: "We shall prevail."

He urged his backers not to give up: "We have to be patient counting the votes to see if we will have the opportunity to lead. It may take hours, it may take days, but we will ensure that every single vote is counted."

Speaking against divisive political issues, he said: "Our new generation, we stand up for personal freedom. We don’t believe politicians should be in our bedroom or in our business or in our pocketbooks."

UPDATE: 10:45 p.m.: New Numbers Show DeMaio Clings To Small Lead

New numbers released by the registrar at 10:45 p.m. show GOP challenger Carl DeMaio has 1,525 more votes than Republican Rep. Scott Peters. Yes, it's that close.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Milan Kovacevic

Scott Peters at the Westin Hotel in downtown San Diego, Nov. 4, 2014.

UPDATE: 10:35 p.m.: Scott Peters: 'It’s going to be a long night'

Democratic Rep. Scott Peters continues to talk to supporters and the news media. He remains behind by 1 percentage point. Republican challenger Carl DeMaio hasn't spoken yet to supporters or the news media.

With the contest so close, Peters said, "It’s going to be a long night. It always is."

If he loses, Peters said: "Carl had better name recognition than I did. ... I haven’t really given a moment of thought to losing."

If he wins, he said: "We have to work to make Congress work again."

UPDATE: 9:47 p.m.: No Change In District 52 Even With A Few More Votes Counted

The Registrar of Voters Office released new results about 9:45 p.m., and they show GOP challenger Carl DeMaio still ahead with 51 percent of the vote to Peters' 49 percent of the vote.

Everyone called this race a toss-up, and it's proving to be true.

UPDATE: 9:30 p.m.: Incumbent Peters Says He's Optimistic

Freshman Rep. Scott Peters told Democrats gathered at the Westin Hotel in downtown San Diego that he is optimistic even though he is slightly behind in early returns.

"Typically, we wait a while before we get final results. ... We’re really happy to be where we are and are very optimistic. It can be a long night, but a good one."

Peters said if reelected he'll focus on fixing the economy by creating new biotech and innovation jobs. He said he will also protect a woman's right to choose.

He said he intends to return to Washington, D.C., and continue "problem solving."

His GOP challenger, Carl DeMaio, has not yet spoken to the Republicans gathered at the U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego.

UPDATE: 8:10 p.m.: DeMaio Holds Slim Lead Over Peters

With 15 percent of the votes counted, Republican Carl DeMaio holds a slight lead over Democratic Rep. Scott Peters in the tight race for San Diego’s 52nd Congressional District.

DeMaio has 51 percent of the vote and Peters has 49 percent of the vote.

The contest has been one of the nation’s most heated House races.

Original post:

San Diego’s 52nd Congressional District contest has been one of the nation’s most heated House races. Voters will finally decide Tuesday who will win the showdown between freshman Democratic Rep. Scott Peters and Republican challenger Carl DeMaio.

The election comes just two days after Navy veteran Justin Harper, 25, a former campaign staffer for DeMaio, publicly accused DeMaio of sexual harassment. Former campaign staffer Todd Bosnich, 29, who was fired earlier this year, also made allegations of sexual harassment against DeMaio that went public in mid-October. DeMaio vehemently denies all of the allegations.

The race for the 52nd District, which runs north from Coronado to La Jolla and then east to include Carmel Valley, Scripps Ranch, Poway and Rancho Bernardo, is only one of seven congressional seats this year rated a "pure tossup" by the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report. There are 435 House races total.

The toss-up status is due in part to the district's evenly split voter registration. There are 33.6 percent registered Republicans, 32.1 percent registered Democrats and 29.2 percent independents in the district. Outside groups have poured millions of dollars into the race, filling commercial breaks with political ads and stuffing mailboxes with fliers.

In the final weeks of the race, the sexual harassment allegations dominated the news and the chatter on social media. The San Diego County District Attorney's Office declined to file charges related to Bosnich's sex harassment claims but has not weighed in on what Harper says happened to him. Harper said he has not reported the incident to the police.

Bosnich's story also revived old campaign issues, including a plagiarized pension report by the DeMaio campaign and a mysterious break-in at the Republican's campaign headquarters. After Bosnich publicly accused DeMaio of sexual harassment last month, DeMaio accused him of burglarizing the campaign office.

The District Attorney's Office said last month that not enough evidence exists to bring charges in the break-in. The DA named no possible suspects, but a police report the DeMaio released this week shows a campaign staffer told police Bosnich and another fired former staffer were possibly behind the burglary. The former staffer is the ex-girlfriend of the latest sexual harassment accuser, Harper.

On Sunday, a 10News/U-T San Diego poll showed the race remains a statistical tie.

The race attracted national attention as well as money. Vice President Joe Biden stumped for Peters on Saturday, while House Speaker John Boehner held a San Diego fundraiser last month for DeMaio.

Who is Running?

The incumbent Peters, 56, is from Springfield, Ohio, and went to Duke University and New York University School of Law. He was a San Diego port commissioner from 2008 to 2012, and served on the San Diego City Council from 2000 to 2008. Before that, he was an environmental lawyer and San Diego deputy city attorney.

Peters lives in La Jolla with his wife and two children.

The challenger DeMaio, 40, is from Dubuque, Iowa, and went to Georgetown University. He served on the San Diego City Council from 2008 to 2012, and then ran unsuccessfully for mayor against Bob Filner. DeMaio also founded two companies, The Performance Institute and American Strategic Management Institute.

DeMaio, who is openly gay, lives in Rancho Bernardo with his partner.

Who is Supporting Whom?

Peters is endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood and League of Conservation Voters. Democratic elected officials, including Gov. Jerry Brown, San Diego Reps. Susan Davis and Juan Vargas and state Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins of San Diego, support him.

DeMaio is endorsed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, San Diego Association of Realtors, the Mexican American Business & Professional Association and U-T San Diego. Republican elected officials, including San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, City Council members Scott Sherman, Mark Kersey and Lorie Zapf and Northern California Congressman Tom McClintock, support him.

What are the Issues?

In a KPBS questionnaire, both candidates stated similar stances on many issues.

Both said they want to make some changes to the Affordable Care Act but would continue to guarantee coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. Both believe climate change is real, although DeMaio said research should continue into humans' impact on it. Both support same-sex marriage, and neither wants to restrict a woman's right to an abortion.

On gun control, Peters said he supports bills to reinstate the assault weapons ban, close the fire sale loophole and strengthen penalties on gun traffickers. DeMaio said he does not support new gun control laws but wants more resources to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and those with mental health disorders.

Both also said they support net neutrality and explained their specific positions on the principle that Internet service providers treat all web content equally at forums in October.

In debates, DeMaio has said he supports a border security bill passed by the House, which Peters voted against. Peters has said he supports the bipartisan immigration reform bill passed by the Senate.

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Claire Trageser
Investigative Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksAs a member of the KPBS investigative team, my job is to hold the powerful in San Diego County accountable. I've done in-depth investigations on political campaigns, police officer misconduct and neighborhood quality of life issues.

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