As of Thursday afternoon, Bera leads 51.11 percent to Lungren's 48.89 percent after Sacramento County election officials issued another update on the race. The Democrat is now ahead by 5,696 votes, his largest lead since county officials began tallying additional ballots last week.
Both News 10 and the Sacramento Bee reported the Associated Press has already called the race for Bera late Thursday afternoon. A story posted by the Mercury News said the Republican incumbent has refused to concede, according to Lungren campaign manager Jeff Wyly.
The Lungren campaign didn't respond to phone messages before this story was posted, but Bera released a statement early Thursday evening that sounded distinctly like a victory speech.
“It will be an honor to serve Sacramento County in Congress,” Bera said in the statement. “Now is the time to find common ground and move forward to rebuild an economy that works for the middle class. Congressman Lungren deserves our appreciation for his long record of public service.”
Bera has already flown to Washington D.C. where he's attending orientation for new congressmembers.
Still, the county hasn't certified the race. The race was too close to call on Election Day. County election officials have been counting thousands of absentee and provisional ballots since last week to determine the winner.
Election officials still have to process roughly 7,700 absentee ballots and 31,000 provisional ballots. The county has 28 days from Nov. 6 to certify the election.
Patch will continue updating the race when the county releases more information later this week or early next week.
Here's what Patch reported last week about the race:
Remember that hotly contested 7th Congressional District race Patch covered on Election Day? It's still not over.
After the race between Democratic challenger Ami Bera and Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Gold River) finished in a dead heat on Election Day, Sacramento County officials have been feverishly counting absentee and provisional ballots to decide the winner.
The county issued an update Friday after processing 64,000 additional ballots the past three days and announced Bera had widened his narrow lead over incumbent Lungren. Bera is now ahead 50.43 percent to Lungren's 49.57 and leads by 1,779 votes—up from a tiny margin of just 184 votes Wednesday.
The race remains very much up in the air. County officials have 98,000 absentee ballots and 31,000 provisional ballots still left to process.
"It's by no means close to the end," said assistant registrar Alice Jarboe. "We still have quite a few to go, but it's good to have updates so that those close races can see what the newest results are."
Jarboe said election workers will continue counting ballots over the holiday weekend and could have another update on the 7th congressional race by Tuesday.
It's a stirring finish to a race that most analysts expected to come down to the wire. Lungren comfortably won the June primary after capturing 52.9 percent of the vote but most polls showed the race as a dead heat before Election Day on Nov. 6.
Bera and Lungren also ran against each other in 2010 for the state's 3rd congressional district. Lungren carried the seat, and California's electoral districts were then reconfigured by a nonpartisan commission later that year.
Since June, the candidates have sparred over the airwaves and in person at their September debate, the only time Lungren and Bera have squared off in person.
The race has even drawn national attention for the level of vitriol traded between the two men. Former President Bill Clinton stumped for Bera at a Davis campaign event in October where he endorsed the Democratic challenger, while CREDO SuperPAC, a political group supporting progressive causes, protested outside Lungren's contentious townhall meetings.
The county's election office has 28 days to count the votes and certify a winner. Patch will continue to update readers on the status of this extremely close race as more news becomes available.