Republican Carl DeMaio conceded defeat to incumbent Democrat Scott Peters in one of the nation's most hotly contested congressional races.
DeMaio -- who would have been a rarity in Congress as an openly gay Republican -- told The Associated Press in an interview on Sunday that he will work within his party to make it more inclusive but was not specific about his plans.
"It's clear that we are falling short in the vote counts and I wish Mr. Peters the best because I care so much about the interests of San Diego," he said. "I'm incredibly proud of the inclusive and diverse campaign coalition that we forged and I remain committed to challenging the Republican Party to become more inclusive more positive in its efforts to build a governing majority."
Peters on Friday won a second term to represent a large part of San Diego in Congress after a bitter campaign that saw his Republican challenger on the defensive against accusations of sexual harassment by a former campaign staffer.
DeMaio said the allegations were "incredibly painful" and left him wary about the state of journalism and electoral politics. The San Diego County district attorney said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute but fueled news coverage.
Peters led with 51.3 percent of the vote to 48.8 percent for DeMaio, a 4,491-vote lead. Although San Diego County Registrar of Voters Michael Vu estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 ballots remained to be counted, The Associated Press determined Friday that it was insufficient for DeMaio to overtake the moderate Democrat.
New vote tallies released Saturday showed Peters' lead had widened to 4,771 votes.
It was one of three victories for Democrats in California congressional races that were too close to call until three days after polls closed. Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar prevailed in Southern California's Inland Empire, and Rep. Jerry McNerney survived a challenge in the Central Valley.
DeMaio spokesman Dave McCulloch confirmed to NBC 7 that the candidate has conceded.