Republican aerospace executive Mike Garcia held a 56 percent to 46 percent (at press time) lead over Democratic Assemblywoman Christy Smith in the special election to fill the congressional seat formerly held by Democrat Katie Hill, according to semi-official results released Wednesday morning. By the afternoon, Smith had conceded the election.
President Donald Trump, who had endorsed Garcia, tweeted Wednesday: “Big Congressional win in California for Mike Garcia, taking back a seat from the Democrats. This is the first time in many years that a California Dem seat has flipped back to a Republican.’’ Garcia will complete the term of former Rep. Hill through Nov. 3. At that time, he and Smith will vie for the complete two-year term for the district.
Garcia’s win is the first time a Republican has won a congressional seat in California that had been held by a Democrat since 1998 when then-Assemblyman Steve Kuykendall defeated Janice Hahn to win the South Bay seat vacated by Jane Harman to unsuccessfully run for governor. Harman later defeated Kuykendall in 2000.
However, there are still many outstanding ballots to be counted in the nearly entirely vote-by-mail election, according to Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean C. Logan. The first update is expected to be provided today, Logan said.
Garcia, at press time, had 80,337 votes to 62,998 for Smith, according to figures released by election officials early Wednesday.
“The data is looking extremely encouraging that we’ve seen so far,’’ Garcia told supporters on a conference call shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday. “I’m extremely humbled by this turnout. I’m proud of the results so far and look forward to declaring victory very soon and getting to work in Washington, D.C., for this beautiful 25th Congressional District in California.’’
The Garcia campaign released a statement on election night, including this comment from the candidate: “This district has been without leadership for far too long, and the people here need a strong independent voice fighting for them in D.C., especially during these challenging times.”
Smith said in a statement issued by her campaign that she was “extremely grateful for the support our campaign has received from every corner of this district.’’
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order March 20 requiring that all voters in the district receive a vote-by-mail ballot in an effort to protect public health and safety during the coronavirus outbreak.
Smith (D-Santa Clarita) was trying to become the second consecutive Democrat to win what had been a seat long held by Republicans until Hill’s 2018 victory over then-Rep. Steve Knight.