Elliot Spagat / AP

DeMaio concedes bitter San Diego House race

Republican Carl DeMaio’s campaign against Scott Peters was upended by claims that he sexually harassed former staffer

Republican Carl DeMaio on Sunday conceded defeat to incumbent Scott Peters in one of the nation's most hotly contested congressional races to represent a large part of San Diego, ending a bitter campaign that was rocked by claims that he sexually harassed a former staffer.

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DeMaio, who is openly gay, said he will work within his party to make it more inclusive, echoing a theme of his campaign. He was not more specific about his plans but said the campaign was "incredibly painful" and left him wary about electoral politics.

Peters, a moderate Democrat, leads with 51.3 percent of the vote compared DeMaio's 48.7 percent, with nearly all votes counted. The Associated Press called the race for Peters, 56, on Friday.

DeMaio's campaign was upended in its final weeks when Todd Bosnich, a former policy director for DeMaio, said DeMaio harassed him and offered $50,000 for him to stay quiet. DeMaio vigorously denied the allegations and called them a "false smear."

Dave McCulloch, a DeMaio spokesman, said the controversy created "massive attrition and erosion" among DeMaio's Republican base — including older, evangelical Christian voters — and created "an ick factor." The allegations were less of an issue with independent voters, he said.

DeMaio, 40, sharply criticized Peters over the extent to which his campaign communicated with Bosnich, as disclosed in search warrant affidavits that were unsealed Friday. Local media outlets  U-T San Diego and KNSD-TV reported on the disclosures.

Peters campaign manager MaryAnne Pintar, informed police of the allegations against DeMaio, U-T San Diego reported, a role that was never acknowledged during the campaign. The documents reveal that Pintar met with Bosnich at a coffee shop, took delivery of DeMaio campaign materials, and kept possession of them for some time — counter to Peters' statement during a televised debate that they were handed over to police immediately.

"Given the evidence that is emerging and is likely to emerge in coming weeks and days, Mr. Peters has significant, serious questions that he must answer," DeMaio said.

Neither Pintar nor Peters' spokesman, Alex Roth, immediately responded to a request for comment. Pintar told U-T San Diego on Saturday that her involvement with Bosnich was appropriate.

The material, which DeMaio's campaign said was stolen in a burglary of his office that left computer screens smashed and phone lines cut, was highly sensitive, McCulloch said. It included schedules, about 50 mailers and when and how the campaign planned to go negative on Peters.

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said little more than two weeks before the election that there was insufficient evidence to file criminal charges against DeMaio for harassment or Bosnich for the burglary, but controversy surrounding DeMaio fueled news coverage.

The Associated Press

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