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Denham Wins GOP Nod to Succeed Radanovich; Pombo Distant Third

California state Sen. Jeff Denham won the Republican primary in the Central Valley-based 19th district Tuesday, making him a shoo-in to succeed retiring Rep. George Radanovich (R) in November.

Denham won the contentious contest with 36 percent and former Fresno mayor Jim Patterson came in second with 30 percent. Former Rep. Richard Pombo, angling for a comeback four years after losing re-election in an adjacent district, was a distant third with 21 percent.

Fresno councilman Larry Westerlund rounded out the GOP voting with 13 percent.

There were large geographical disparities in the voting. Denham, who had the support of Radanovich and other Members of the California GOP delegation, dominated the vote in Stanislaus and Tuolumne Counties in the northern part of the district; Patterson finished last in both counties.

Democrats aren’t targeting the open seat race in the 19th district, which heavily favors Republicans.

Meanwhile, in a race that will be more competitive in November, Republican voters in the 11th district chose attorney David Harmer to take on Rep. Jerry McNerney (D) this fall.

Harmer, the son of a former lieutenant governor, won with 36 percent while vineyard owner Brad Goehring followed with 28 percent.

Former U.S. marshal Tony Amador had 19 percent and Elizabeth Emken, vice president of the group Autism Speaks, had 16 percent.

Harmer was the Republican nominee in a special election last November in the 10th district, where he lost by 10 points to now-Rep. John Garamendi (D).

McNerney won a second term in 2008 with 55 percent of the vote and Republicans are expected to target him for defeat this November.

Finally, Tuesday’s primary results also produced the next Member of Congress from the state’s heavily Democratic 33rd district. Few, if any, members of next year’s freshman class will have had an easier path than Karen Bass (D), a former California Assembly Speaker who won 85 percent of the vote in a primary that included three minor candidates.

Bass is a shoo-in to succeed Rep. Diane Watson (D), who is retiring from a district in and around Los Angeles that gave Barack Obama 87 percent of the vote, his second-highest percentage in the state and one of his best showings nationwide.

An open district that is so strongly Democratic normally would draw a large field in the primary. But Bass became the overwhelming favorite almost immediately after Watson announced in February that she would not seek another term.

Bass’ election in November will mean that California’s 33rd, where blacks and Hispanics together make up about two-thirds of residents, will continue to be represented by an African-American woman.

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