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After getting within 500 votes last week, the latest update shows Democratic challenger TJ cox has taken the lead from incumbent Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) for the first time in the race for Congressional District 21.

An update Tuesday on the Secretary of State website reports Cox has garnered 55,627 votes (50.2 percent) and Valadao has received 55,236 votes (49.8 percent) as of press time. This is a difference of only 436 votes.

So far, 110,908 votes have been counted districtwide. The 21st Congressional District includes Kings County and portions of Fresno, Tulare and Kern counties.

While Valadao is leading in Kings County (62.7 percent of 28,713 votes), Fresno County (50.8 percent of 39,925 votes) and Tulare County (54.3 percent of 3,499 votes), Kern County is where the difference is being made.

A press release from Cox’s campaign said when Kern County updated vote totals on Monday, Cox gained a net 885 votes.

Currently in Kern County, Cox has received 23,693 votes (61.1 percent) and Valadao has 15,098 votes (38.9 percent) of the 38,791 total votes counted so far.

According to the Kern County Elections Division, in the portion of Kern County that the District 21 covers, there are 49,489 registered Democrat voters and 16,096 registered Republican voters.

Cox released the following statement Monday night:

“Here in the Central Valley, we are often underestimated and counted out. But while the national spotlight focused elsewhere, our hard-working communities came together to fight for better health care, good jobs and more opportunities. We came together to stand up for our families and our neighbors because Washington wasn’t standing up for us. We demanded better from our elected officials. Now, together, we are bringing the decency, integrity and common sense of the people back to Congress.”

Requests for comment from Valadao were not returned by deadline for this article.

While results currently have Cox in the lead and his campaign staff believes the trend will continue, there is no guarantee at this point that results won’t change again.

Counties have until 30 days after the election date, which is Dec. 6, to finalize and certify results. So far, none of the district’s counties are reporting final numbers due to vote-by- mail ballots, provisional ballots and other ballots still being tallied.

Valadao, a dairyman from Kings County, is seeking his fourth term in Congress after first being elected in 2012. Cox is an engineer and entrepreneur from Fresno.

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