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Democrats Bring House Gains to 40 as T.J. Cox Wins Last Remaining Race

T.J. Cox

Cox, an LGBTQ ally who had the endorsement of Equality California, bested incumbent David Valadao, who had a poor record on queer issues.

It looks like Democrats have flipped another U.S. House seat, this one in California's agriculture-heavy 21st Congressional District.

Democrat T.J. Cox declared victory over Republican incumbent David Valadao Wednesday afternoon, having taken a lead of 529 votes over Valadao after all remaining ballots from Kings and Fresno counties were counted, according to The Fresno Bee. "The race appears to be decided, as only a small amount of votes remain to be processed in Kern and Tulare counties," the paper reports.

The victory brings Democratic gains in the House to 40, with seven seats flipped in California alone. The district's race was the last one to be decided. Valadao had a lead of about 4,400 votes on election night, but that evaporated as mail-in and other ballots were counted. In California, ballots postmarked Election Day are counted if they are received within three days.

Cox, a small-business owner and community activist, is an LGBTQ ally who had the endorsement of Equality California. Valadao, in contrast, has compiled a poor record on LGBTQ rights, with scores in the 20s and 30s (out of a possible 100) on the Human Rights Campaign's Congressional Scorecard over his first three terms in the House. Scores are not yet in for his fourth term, to which he was elected in 2016. He received similarly low scores on Equality California's Legislative Scorecard.

"I am proud to receive the endorsement of Equality California," Cox said in a press release from the group earlier this year. "Our LGBTQ sons, daughters, brothers and sisters deserve equal rights and protections -- from working without fear of discrimination to serving openly in our military without fear of reprisal. In Congress, I will stand up and fight for those rights and freedoms."

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee celebrated Cox's win in a tweet: "Let this be a message to every Republican. If you come for Americans' livelihoods, we WILL come for your seats."

The Democratic House gain is the biggest in any midterm election since 1974, in the wake of the Watergate scandal.

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