For election updates, follow us on our blog.
Alan Lowenthal will go to Congress after a 20-year political career that he began as a community organizer who won a seat on the Long Beach City Council.
Lowenthal, 71, a Democrat, defeated Republican Gary DeLong Tuesday night to take the Long Beach-to-western Orange County 47th Congressional District seat.
According to the California Secretary of State's Office, Lowenthal had 55.4 percent of the unofficial vote to DeLong's 44.6 percent.
First elected to office in 1992 after he was inspired to run in part because of an infamous videotaped incident in which Don Jackson, an off-duty Hawthorne police sergeant and black activist, was pushed into a plate glass window by a Long Beach police officer, Lowenthal is at the end of his second term in the state Senate. Prior to that, he served in the Assembly.
"At each step I never thought I was going to move to somewhere else," Lowenthal said late Tuesday, after the Republican stronghold of Orange County finished counting and the election began to break decisively his way.
"I'm overwhelmed. I've tried really hard to represent my community. I think it will sink in tomorrow.
The 52-year-old DeLong, the owner of a telecommunications consulting firm who is in his second Long Beach City Council term, didn't return requests for comment Wednesday.
Political observers gave the Republican long odds in his quest to defeat Lowenthal for a new seat drawn during independent redistricting last year.
The district skews Democrat - at last count completed two weeks ago, the party had 13.5 percent more voters than there are Republicans in the district, according to the Secretary of State data.
Lowenthal had other inherent advantages, such as strong union support, and a name that is synonymous with politics in southern Los Angeles County. Before entering politics, he was a psychology professor at Cal State Long Beach.
Still, DeLong, a moderate who is pro-choice and supports gay marriage, worried Democrats enough to warrant sharp attacks and attempts to tie the Republican to far-right politicians in Washington. Former President Bill Clinton also dropped in to Southern California last month to endorse Lowenthal and other Democratic congressional candidates.
"Gary was certainly no Tea Party candidate," said Hal Dash, a Democratic political consultant not involved in the race.
"He's a sharp, successful, smart guy, and a kind of moderate Republicans could use a lot more of these days."
Besides Lowenthal's long experience and name recognition, Dash suspected that down-ballot state measures such as Propositions 30 and 32 turned out more Democratic voters, and enthusiasm for President Barack Obama also impacted DeLong's chances as the GOP banner carrier.
"The thing is, Alan had a bigger name in Long Beach, the longer career, and Long Beach is the 800-pound gorilla in the district," Dash said.
DeLong, a newcomer to running for high office, was a prodigious fundraiser this election cycle, collecting $1.3 million, while Lowenthal, despite his political leg up on his rival, was behind, gathering almost $980,000.
In a closely-watched campaign where both sides often howled behind the scenes about the misdeeds and misrepresentations of their opponent, it was DeLong who attracted the most public attention when he was videotaped at a Rossmoor Homeowners Association event saying he did not see scientific evidence of climate change.
He later issued a statement that said climate change is influenced by man and natural conditions. His campaign claimed the recorded comments were taken out of context.
On the campaign trail, DeLong held traditional fiscal conservative views but didn't rule out raising taxes if all other approaches had been exhausted.
Lowenthal has endorsed President Barack Obama's agenda, including the Affordable Care Act and the American Jobs Act, and he also supports environmentally-friendly policies and upgrades to the education system, such as expanding the role of community colleges.
A close-run and occasionally nasty campaign was true to its tone on its last day, when Lowenthal fired a campaign staffer who allegedly stole DeLong signs in Stanton.
The episode caused Lowenthal to issue an unusual Election Day statement disavowing the action.
"This incident does not reflect on my values for how campaigns should be conducted," the statement read.
Tuesday night began on a hopeful note for DeLong supporters, who cheered when their candidate was ahead in the first returns from a watch party at the Long Beach Yacht Club.
At the end of the day, though, it was Lowenthal backers who celebrated their candidate's victory - and President Barack Obama's re-election - at La Traviata downtown.
"It was an emphatically great night," said Andy Kincaid of Long Beach.
"Now the tough stuff comes because you have to form a new governing coalition."
Kincaid suggested, considering the partisan gap dividing the two parties after a bruising election year, that Democrats approach that task "with humility."
Lowenthal received 93,047 votes on Tuesday, while 74,952 voters chose DeLong.
In Los Angeles County, 61,985, or 63.2 percent, picked Lowenthal. DeLong had 36,074 votes, 36.8 percent.
Orange County voters preferred DeLong, with 55.6 percent of voters, or 38,878, marking their ballots for the Republican.
Lowenthal tallied 31,062 votes in the county, 44.4 percent.
The 113th U.S. Congress is scheduled to convene Jan. 3.