Perez concedes Senate seat to Vidak: 'This campaign is over'

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) "This campaign is over," Leticia Perez said in a news release late Wednesday afternoon, conceding the race for the 16th Senate District.

A special general election was held Tuesday to fill the seat, left open after Democrat Michael Rubio of Bakersfield resigned in February to work for Chevron Corp.

Republican Andy Vidak won the special election, earning 54 percent of the vote before more than 9,200 outstanding absentee and provisional ballots were counted.

The hotly contested race saw the candidates' campaigns raise roughly $4 million combined. Democrats had hoped to hold the seat to protect their supermajority status in the Senate, prompting a flood of campaign contributions and a flurry of negative ads in both English and Spanish.

With Vidak's win, Senate Democrats will still maintain their two-thirds majority for this year. The party is expected to face several tough Senate contests in 2014.

Vidak, a cherry farmer, earned wide margins in his home county of Kings and in Tulare County. Perez, a Kern County supervisor, led in Kern and Fresno counties.

"This campaign is over. Andy has earned the right to represent us in Sacramento and I look forward to him delivering on his promises to create jobs, improve our economy and deliver fresh, reliable water to our farms and families," Perez said in the news release. "It's time for each of us to get to work."