House Democrats can breathe a sigh of relief: their preferred candidate has squeaked through a primary in the race to replace retiring Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.), a top pickup opportunity.


California officials finally closed the vote count Friday afternoon in California's 31st District, 10 days after Redlands Mayor Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarAOC v. Pelosi: Round 12? Maloney to lead Democrats' campaign arm House Democrats pick Aguilar as No. 6 leader in next Congress MORE (D) had barely hung onto second place in the all-party primary. He beat out former Hill staffer Lesli Gooch (R) by just 209 votes out of more than 53,000 cast.

Aguilar's narrow win comes because other Democrats — former Rep. Joe Baca (D-Calif.) and EMILY's List-backed attorney Eloise Gomez Reyes (D) — split the Democratic field.

The result means Democrats will be favored in the fall in a district President Obama won by a double-digit margin. Two years ago, they failed to get Aguilar through to the second round and cost themselves the seat. He'll face Republican Paul Chabot (R), the first-place finisher, this fall, where Aguilar will be heavily favored.