SANTA ANA (CNS) - Two Republican challengers were holding slim leads over Orange County Democratic House members today as the GOP looks to regain a congressional foothold in the once-decidedly conservative county.
The races remained much too close to call, with the results susceptible to change as county election officials continue tabulating votes from Tuesday's election. As of Thursday morning, the Orange County Registrar of Voters was reporting a total of 235,564 ballots that still need to be tallied.
Mail-in ballots that were postmarked by Election Day can also be received as late as Nov. 20 and still be counted, under state law.
It's unknown how many of those outstanding ballots are from the closely contested districts.
As of Thursday, Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel leads Rep. Harley Rouda, D-Newport Beach, by 2,851 votes in the coastal 48th District. Steel has 50.42% of the vote to Rouda's 49.58%, or 171,461 votes to Rouda's 168,610.
Rouda campaigned on his achievements in Congress, insisting he can work across the aisle to reach consensus agreements. He said he wants to “continue our work to lower prescription drug costs, protect our coastline, and stand up to the insiders and special interests that run Washington.''
Steel said during her campaign she was running to provide a “strong voice in Washington, D.C., who will honor promises made and stand up for us and our values.''
She pointed to her work on the Board of Supervisors, saying she fought higher taxes while working to reduce traffic congestion and “ensuring our bays and coastlines are clean.''
Meanwhile, former Assemblywoman Young Kim led Rep. Gil Cisneros, D-Yorba Linda, by 1,683 votes, 50.3%-49.7%, in the race to represent the 39th Congressional District, which consists of portions of Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. Kim has 138,425 votes and Cisneros 136,742.
The race is a rematch of 2018, when Cisneros defeated the former Rep. Ed Royce's protege.
Two years ago, Kim was leading and even traveled to Washington, D.C., for orientation for newly elected House members, only to be overtaken by Cisneros in late-arriving ballots.
There are an estimated 618,200 ballots still left to be counted in Los Angeles County. It's also unknown how many of them are from the 39th District and might impact the race.
Both Los Angeles and Orange counties are scheduled to releasing tabulation updates Thursday afternoon.
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