The son of a well-known congressman takes over the seat vacated by his father after his ill-fated bid for the White House.
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Republican Duncan D. Hunter, 31, was elected to replace his father, longtime GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter, who is retiring after 14 terms and a failed presidential race.
The nation's economic troubles and President Bush's unpopularity, along with excitement in California over Democratic President-elect Barack Obama, appears to have added up to a tough environment for Republicans, but not all: In the 50th district in San Diego, GOP incumbent Brian Bilbray had 51.66 percent of the vote with 19 percent of precincts reporting. Democrat Nick Leibham had 44.34 percent of the vote.
Also apparently headed back to Congress was another Republican congressman, Darrel Issa, who, with 60 percent of the vote in early returns in the 49th district, was besting challenging Robert Hamilton.
Elsewhere in the region, Democrat Bob Filner had garnered 69 percent of the vote and was leading opponent David Joy (29 percent). Fifty-third District incumbent Susan Davis, too, appeared to be heading back to the Capitol, leading her race with 66 percent of the ballots cast, compared with the 39 percent of votes held by Mike Lumpkin.
California's congressional delegation is divided between 34 Democrats and 19 Republicans. Because of gerrymandering, most seats are safe for the party that holds them, although House members must face voters every two years.
The 4th district and the Hunter seat were the only open seats this year, and seven California members of Congress ran unopposed Tuesday.
Neither of California's U.S. senators, who serve six-year terms, was up for re-election this year.