GOP candidate DeMaio tarred by ‘smear’ concedes in race for House seat in California
SAN DIEGO — Republican Carl DeMaio on Sunday conceded defeat to incumbent Scott Peters in one of the nation’s most hotly contested congressional races to represent a large part of San Diego, ending a bitter campaign that was rocked by claims that he sexually harassed a former staffer.
DeMaio, who is openly gay, said he will work within his party to make it more inclusive, echoing a theme of his campaign. He was not more specific about his plans but said the campaign was “incredibly painful” and left him wary of electoral politics.
“It’s clear that we are falling short in the vote counts, and I wish Mr. Peters the best because I care so much about the interests of San Diego,” he told The Associated Press. “I’m incredibly proud of the inclusive and diverse campaign coalition that we forged, and I remain committed to challenging the Republican Party to become more inclusive and more positive in its efforts to build a governing majority.”
Peters, a moderate Democrat, leads with 51.3 percent of the vote compared with DeMaio’s 48.7 percent, with nearly all votes counted.
DeMaio’s campaign was upended in its final weeks when Todd Bosnich, former policy director, said he was harassed by his former boss and was offered $50,000 to stay quiet.
DeMaio vigorously denied the allegations and called them a “false smear.”
Dave McCulloch, a spokesman, said the controversy caused “massive attrition and erosion” among DeMaio’s Republican base — including older, evangelical Christian voters — and engendered “an ick factor.” The allegations were less of an issue with independent voters, he said.