Following an initially razor-thin lead over Republican challenger Chris Mitchum, incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Lois Capps will be heading back to Washington, D.C., for her ninth full term in the 24th Congressional District seat.
As of 11:15 p.m., Capps led Mitchum 51 percent to 48 percent of the vote, with 423 of 438 precincts reporting district-wide.
The district includes San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and parts of Ventura counties.
In San Luis Obispo County, with all 163 local precincts reporting, Capps led Mitchum only by a fraction of a percent, 50.4 to 49.5.
Capps, 76, has served in Congress since 1997 and used her background as a nurse to champion healthcare reform, environmental initiatives and social welfare programs.
At about 11 p.m., Capps said she and her staff knew the race would be close after the district was redrawn in 2010, with Democrats now only narrowly outnumbering Republicans.
Mitchum, 70, beat out four other Republican candidates in the June primary to earn the GOP ticket in Tuesday’s election.
Mitchum pledged to focus on trimming the size of the federal government while reinvesting in the U.S. Department of Defense, lowering taxes and advocating for the expansion of domestic oil production.
Mitchum could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.