Rep. Mike Levin won a third term in Congress representing a coastal North San Diego and Orange County district that had become a key battleground race in the fight for control of the House of Representatives.
The Associated Press called the race as both counties released additional results Wednesday that showed the Democratic incumbent with a lead of 5.2 percentage points over his Republican opponent Brian Maryott.
Final results will take longer, and the election will be certified by Dec. 8.
“With the vast majority of votes tabulated and the race called in our favor, it is with great honor and humility that I will return to serve California’s 49th District in the United States House of Representatives again,” Levin said in a statement Wednesday evening.
The contest was one of the handful of key battleground races expected to decide which party would control the chambers of Congress. Throughout the campaign, it drew $20 million in spending, along with a visit from President Joe Biden the week before Election Day.
Earlier Wednesday, Republicans gained the 218 seats they needed to take back the U.S. House of Representatives. Losses in districts such as Levin’s, however, ensured a narrow GOP majority that could pose challenges for party leadership.
Levin’s win could also shape federal policy on energy, environment and the economy. The congressman highlighted those priorities in his campaign’s statement Wednesday, noting the role of bipartisan efforts in the closely divided House.
“I am so proud of the work we have done to make healthcare more affordable, to pass historic legislation to rein in global climate change, to improve the quality of life for our veterans, to increase America’s international competitiveness in semiconductors, and to rebuild our nation’s badly neglected infrastructure,” he said.
The race was a rematch of the 2020 general election, when Levin beat Maryott by 6 percentage points — a margin similar to his current lead. Redistricting since that election had given Democrats a smaller registration advantage in the district.
Although GOP leaders have grappled with lackluster results in congressional races across the country since last week, Maryott said last week that he was still hopeful of closing the gap with Levin. Instead, Levin’s lead more than doubled in the week since the election.
Maryott could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday evening.
Last week, Thad Kousser, the chair of the political science department at UC San Diego, had said that a Levin win would reflect the Democrat’s “recognition that all politics are local” and affirm his work on issues unique to the district, including veterans’ affairs, the environment and disposal of spent nuclear fuel at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.