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Republican Harkey Leads In Race For 49th Congressional Seat

A map shows the boundaries of the 49th Congressional District, which includes...

Credit: KPBS

Above: A map shows the boundaries of the 49th Congressional District, which includes coastal communities in Orange and San Diego counties, January 2018.

In a race Democrats are anxious to win to increase their strength in Washington, Republican Diane Harkey is heading for a November runoff in the battle to replace retiring Rep. Darrell Issa, but she'll face a Democratic challenger.

Issa opted not to run again for his 49th District seat, causing a flood of 16 candidates to pursue the district, which runs from La Jolla to Dana Point.

Harkey, a state Board of Equalization member, topped all candidates in Tuesday's primary.

She will be challenged by a Democrat in November. Environmental attorney and former Orange County Democratic Party official Mike Levin is currently in second place, while Demcorat Sara Jacobs, who conducted foreign affairs work during the Obama Administration, finished in third place, followed by retired Marine Col. Doug Applegate, who nearly defeated Issa in 2016.

Jacobs, who won slightly more votes than Levin in San Diego County, trails Levin by fewer than two thousand votes in combined Orange County and San Diego totals. She put out a statement this morning pointing out that tens of thousands of votes remain to be counted.

East in the 50th District, incumbent Republican Duncan Hunter, finished firmly in first place for the seat he's held since 2009 and that his father, Duncan D. Hunter, held long before that. The district encompasses much of East County as well as Fallbrook, San Marcos, Valley Center and Escondido.

Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, a former Department of Labor spokesman, finished second and will face Hunter in the November runoff.

Democrats hope the 50th District is more vulnerable than in previous years due to an ongoing FBI investigation into alleged campaign finance violations by Hunter.

Editor's Note: The story is updated to reflect the fact that tens of thousands of votes remain to be counted in the 49th congressional race and the top two Democratic candidates are running less than 2 percentage points apart at this hour.

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