Republican Rep. David Valadao has defeated incumbent Democratic Rep. TJ Cox in California's 21st Congressional District, the Associated Press reported Friday afternoon.
Valadao, who represented the district for three terms starting in 2013, edged Cox in the tight race by nearly 1 percentage point, or just over 1,500 votes, to reclaim the seat he narrowly lost two years ago.
BREAKING: Republican David Valadao wins election to U.S. House in California's 21st Congressional District, beating… https://t.co/ITmhdCWd1D— AP Politics (@AP Politics) 1606502038.0
Valadao endorsed President Donald Trump ahead of this year's election, something he opted not to do in 2016. Backing the president was considered a risky move due to the fact that Trump lost the district to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by 15 points four years ago. Evidently this time around, it paid off.
On Wednesday, after the race had been called by Decision Desk HQ, the Republican candidate tweeted, "As vote counts come to a close, I am honored to receive the support of #CA21 voters and look forward to returning to Congress to represent the Central Valley. Thank you to those who have worked tirelessly to make the voice of the Valley heard this election!"
With Valadao's victory, Republicans have picked up their 11th seat overall in the U.S. House.
Why does it matter?
Valadao's victory in the central California district marks the third seat in this election cycle that Republicans have flipped, following victories by Congresswoman-elect Young Kim in the 39th District and Congresswoman-elect Michelle Steel in the 48th District.
Republicans flipping seats in the deep blue state is a rarity. In its coverage of the news, the Daily Wire noted that earlier this year, Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Calif.) won the House seat vacated by Democrat Katie Hill "to become the first Republican to pick up a blue seat in the Golden State since the 1990s."
According to the Associated Press, "On paper, the 21st District looks like it should be a Democratic stronghold: The party holds a nearly 17-point registration edge. But California's agricultural centers have long been known for Republican residents who vote reliably and Democrats who often do not."
Democrats still hold a large lead in the state, having won 42 House seats while the Republicans have won 10 with one race still yet to be called. Nevertheless, Republican gains in the state and elsewhere across the country are a good sign for the party and a rebuke to Democrats who predicted a blue wave would sweep the 2020 election.