The Battle for District 21: The Sequel

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- You might want to take a break from watching the ballot count in the battleground states for the Presidential Election as well as marveling at those folks showing you those bright red and blue-colored U.S. maps and the Electoral College combinations.

Instead, check out our own political drama happening here in the Central Valley for U.S House District 21 between incumbent Representative T.J Cox and former Congressman David Valadao.

If these two names aren't familiar to you, then you've had your TV turned off all summer and fall.

Also, if you enjoyed the first extended showdown between Cox and Valadao two years ago, then you'll love the rematch happening now.
Big money poured into this race from both parties.

Democrats flipped the Valley seat two years ago and wanted to hang on to it to help keep their majority in the House.

Republicans believed they could win back the seat after Cox squeaked out victory by only 862 votes in 2018, plus Valadao was still a popular guy in much of the district especially in his home county (Kings) and western Fresno County.

Let's move on to "Cox-Valadao 2: The Sequel" which may provide more drama than the original.

As of this writing, Valadao, the Hanford dairyman, is leading Cox, the Fresno businessman, by 5,323 votes.

Here's the percentages of the vote counted so far:
Valadao 52.1% Cox 47.9%.

Roughly 10,000 more votes have been cast in this contest than two years ago and there are still thousands and thousands of ballots yet to be counted in the four Valley counties which make up the 21st District - that's parts of Kern, Tulare, Fresno, and all of Kings County.

According to the California Secretary of State's website, these are the totals for the "estimated unprocessed" ballots in each county:

Fresno 38,340
Kings 1,529
Tulare 28,885

But keep your eye on...

Kern County with 177,896 unprocessed ballots yet to count.

Except for Kings County, not all of those ballots are in the 21st District.

Back to Kern County.

Two years ago, Valadao had been declared the winner and re-elected to the House seat by the Associated Press.

Valadao even went back to Washington, DC to have his picture taken with the rest of his GOP House members.

But the ballots kept being counted and the margin of victory grew smaller especially as the big pile of absentee and provisional ballots in Kern County were processed.

Finally, 22 days after Election Night, Cox had slipped past Valadao to upset the incumbent as part of the Democrats' 'Blue Wave' across the country in which they took control of the House of Representatives.

Once again, Kern County could tip the race.

Cox already has a big lead in that part of the district with Valadao very strong in Kings County and leading in Fresno and Tulare Counties.

Here's another wild card: the extension of the time for county elections offices to receive ballots.

This is from the CA Secretary of State's website:
"Vote-by-mail ballots postmarked on or before Election Day and received by the county elections official no later than seventeen days after the election will be processed and can be counted."

Besides the 21st District, there are three other House races in California that are just too close to call and could have a major impact on the balance of power in the House of Representatives.

By the way, the Secretary of State also reports more than 3.9 million ballots have yet to be processed statewide which could have a big impact on several races and propositions.

It may actually take a few more weeks to sort out the winner between Cox and Valadao unless there's a sudden surge from one of them.

Could we see a third match-up?

We'll find out in less than two years.
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