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Democrat Ami Bera has widened his lead over GOP Rep. Dan Lungren in the 7th Congressional District, with the latest vote count this afternoon putting the challenger ahead by 1,779 votes in the suburban Sacramento swing seat.

The two rivals are still separated by less than one percentage point. Bera has won 50.43 percent of the 208,711 votes counted to Lungren's 49.57 percent. Election officials still need to process more than 100,000 ballots submitted throughout Sacramento County, a total that could include tens of thousands of votes in this race.

Bera led Lungren by 184 votes by the end of election night, when about 180,000 votes in the race had been tallied.

This year's battle between Lungren and Bera is one of the country's most competitive and costly congressional races. While Lungren beat Bera by seven percentage points in 2010, redistricting gave Democrats an edge in the suburban Sacramento seat. Outside groups poured more than $8 million into the contest, with pro-Bera forces outspending Lungren's allies by more than $2 million.

Sacramento County election officials plan to update the results again on Tuesday.



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