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bp fred karger.JPGAfter logging an estimated 500 events and more than 200 days in the Granite State, California Republican Fred Karger has survived the first contest of his presidential campaign.

"I made it," Karger said today. "I'm still standing!"

Karger, who has made headlines for being the only openly gay candidate in the GOP presidential race, came in eighth place in last night's New Hampshire primary, with current counts showing he won 485 votes.

A last-minute surge in the final tally allowed him to meet his goal of edging out Michele Bachmann, the Minnesota congresswoman who dropped out of the race after the Iowa caucuses.

"A lot of people like to vote for someone who has a shot at winning," he said of the results. "But I'm very proud of the votes I got."

Karger plans to return to his home in Southern California for a few days before heading back to the trail to begin campaigning for his next contest -- Michigan's Feb. 28 primary.

"I never intended to be on 50 state ballots because we're a lean, mean machine here, and so I wanted to compete in states where I have a chance," he said.

The pro-choice, pro-gay-marriage candidate is hoping the whittling of the field will allow him to finally secure a spot in a national debate in the coming weeks. While he faces long odds to make it to the White House, the former political consultant to President Ronald Reagan says that as long as there's a race for president, he'll be in it.

"I will not continue forward if it's a done deal," he said of the prospect of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney clinching the nomination. "But if Ron Paul continues or (Jon) Huntsman or (Newt) Gingrich catches fire and there is a two- or three- or four-person race, I am going to be nipping at their heels."

Editor's note. This post was updated to reflect final results putting Karger in eighth place, ahead of Bachmann. An earlier tally had him trailing Bachmann by several votes.

PHOTO CREDIT: Fred Karger. Bryan Patrick / Sacramento Bee file, 2010.


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