VENTURA ( — Freshman incumbent Julia Brownley has a tough battle ahead if she hopes to keep her congressional seat in California’s 26th District.

She and her Republican opponent, Jeff Gorell, won primaries and are almost neck-and-neck in the polls as the midterm election nears.

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And both focus on veteran’s issues, agriculture, equal pay and rights for women in their campaign platforms.

Brownley is betting on her six years serving in the California Legislature and her years as a congresswoman to set her apart from her formidable challenger.

“When it comes to Ventura County, I feel very good about the work that I’ve done for our veterans here at home, making sure that they get the services and the benefits,” she said. “When it comes to our agricultural community, I fought very, very hard for the farm bill.”

Although Gorell hasn’t served in Congress, he is no stranger to politics.

He serves as an Assembly member in California’s 37th District. Previously, he worked as a deputy district attorney for Ventura County and is a Navy veteran.

Gorell was called up when he was an assembly member of the 44th District in 2011. He returned in 2012 after a one-year tour of duty.

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Gorell tells Ramon that his roots in Ventura County and experience in the Navy, in addition to his pro-abortion-rights stance, make him the better choice in November.

“All of those things have given me a different perspective of all of the communities in Ventura County and all of the people in this area and I believe an understanding of the community and the people here that would lend well to being a member of the U.S. House of Representatives,” Gorell said.

Both candidates have hit the airwaves with political ads and mailers touting their qualifications but Gorell claims Brownley has taken a negative turn.

“It’s less about a negative campaign. It’s much more about really defining the differences so that the electorate is well-informed before they cast their vote,” Brownley said.

Brownley contends that the negativity is coming from Gorell’s campaign as the Republicans are desperate to gain another seat in Congress.

“There are enough people in this community that know me … and so therefore are rejecting the negative attacks from the other side, so I feel very positive that those who have not decided yet are starting to decide and that they are hopefully supporting me,” Gorell said.

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District 26 encompasses most of southern Ventura County and a small section of Los Angeles County stretching from Ojai to Oxnard to Agoura Hills and Fillmore.