Former House Republican flips central California seat

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FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Republican David Valadao has reclaimed the U.S. House seat he lost in the California farm belt two years ago.

The seat is the 11th overall pickup for Republicans in the House nationwide and the third for Republicans in California.

The former congressman defeated Democratic Rep. TJ Cox, who ousted Valadao in the 21st Congressional District two years ago by 862 votes. Valadao had endorsed President Donald Trump after withholding his backing in 2016 — a risk in a swing district the president lost by 15 points four years ago.

But he also stressed his independence, such as criticizing the Trump administration for family separations at the border and promoting his willingness to work across party lines.

Democrats hold a wide registration edge in the district, though California’s agricultural centers have long been known for Republican residents who vote reliably and Democrats who often do not.

Both candidates had seen unfavorable publicity tied to their business interests.

In an online video he posted this week, Valadao pledged to pass a coronavirus relief package and improve the health care system “so that everyone can get the care they need when they need it most.”

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