Earlier in the day, Democratic Rep. Jim Costa won a sixth term to his San Joaquin Valley district after a low-turnout contest that was much tighter than expected and that neither party had targeted. They were the last of the House races to be decided in California, which has the nation's largest congressional delegation.
Since the vote, California Democrats have won in other races that were too close to call on election night and made a slight dent in the GOP-controlled House. According to a tally by the Sacramento Bee, Reps. Scott Peters, Julia Brownley Raul Ruiz, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi and Lois Capps also swam through the national Republican wave. The only California House district to change partisan hands went to Redlands Democrat Pete Aguilar, who claimed the seat left vacant by retiring Republican Rep. Gary Miller.
California's independent citizens redistricting process left Bera's 7th Congressional District, which is near Sacramento, the state capitol, closely split between Democrats and Republicans. This prompted the GOP and outside conservative groups to target it for a pickup. Their spending moved Democrats and liberal groups to respond, eventually leading to $19.6 million in overall spending, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks money in politics.
Of that, outside groups spent nearly $13.5 million. Ose, a commercial real estate developer, dipped into his personal savings to fuel some of the spending. Federal records show he lent his campaign more than $1.5 million.
In finally edging out a victory Wednesday, Costa narrowly avoided one of the biggest upsets of the midterm elections. He beat Republican challenger Johnny Tacherra 50.7 percent to 49.3 percent in a contest that neither of the two parties expected to be so close.
The robust challenge to Costa, whose family has farmed in the San Joaquin Valley for more than 80 years, was a surprise. Tacherra, a dairy farmer, flew so far under the radar that national and state Republicans pretty much ignored him.
Costa outspent Tacherra by a margin of roughly 3-to-1, and he benefited from a 16-point voter registration edge for Democrats in the district. He had won his 2012 race by a comparable margin.
Al Jazeera with the Associated Press