Incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Garcia and Democrat Christy Smith will again square off in Tuesday’s general election for Californiia’s 27th Congressional District primarily because of redistricting.

The 27th District covers largely the same geographic area as the old 25th District. The biggest effect of the redistricting was to move the Republican-heavy Simi Valley into a different district. In 2020, Garcia defeated Smith in the general election by a scant 333 votes, making it the third-closest U.S. House race that year.

In the June 7 top-two primary, Garcia received 49.6% of the vote to Smith’s 35.4%. Republican candidates won a combined 53.4% of the primary vote, while Democrats captured captured a combined 46.6%

Garcia was first elected to represent the 25th District in May 2020, when he won a special election to succeed Rep. Katie Hill (D). Garcia served in the U.S. Navy as a pilot for 20 years and worked for Raytheon after his retirement. His website lists the economy, jobs, taxes and inflation as his key campaign issues.

“With my experience, I know what needs to be done and I wouldn’t be able to look my two young boys in the face and tell them I had the opportunity to make things right but I chose not to,” Garcia said. “The sacrifices to my family and me are significant but there is nothing more important than [election] today. We need to be aggressive this time.”

Garcia cites his “proven track record” as a leader of job creation and winning new business while also advocating for and promoting minorities and women. He supports decreasing taxes (including eliminating the SALT deduction cap) and shrinking the size of the federal government. Garcia opposed the efforts to decrease police funding and to impose vaccination requirements on police officers.

Smith served in the California Assembly from 2018 to 2020. She worked as an analyst for the U.S. Department of Education and founded the Valencia Valley Technological Education Foundation. Her key campaign issues are expanding access to healthcare, improving the quality of education and codifying Roe v. Wade.

“If we’re going to leave future generations the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, then we have to fight harder than ever before,” Smith said. “We must fight harder with our words, and against the Washington corruption that holds us back.”

Smith has said that healthcare was a “human right” and that the Affordable Care Act needs to be expanded, adding that the healthcare system should have the “same consumer protections” as other markets.

Both Garcia and Smith are campaigning for issues not terribly dissimilar to those facing the rest of the country. Voters have been steadily honing in on issues that may decide the fate of Congress and several state governments. 

California has several races that the nation has kept an eye on during the midterm cycle despite the reliably blue state leaving little room for upsets and surprises.

One of the most high-profile contests on the ballot will be the governor’s race between incumbent Gavin Newsom and his Republican challenger, state Sen. Brian Dahle (First District). Despite a recall challenge seeking to remove Newsom from office last September, the Democrat maintains high ratings statewide and has consistently held a substantial lead over Dahle in the polls.

Elsewhere on the ballot, freshman Sen. Alex Padilla is seeking to defend his spot as one of California’s senators after being appointed to complete the term vacated by Vice President Kamala Harris when she was sworn into the White House. Now Padilla will face Republican Mark Meuser, an attorney, who emerged from a crowded field.

California’s attorney general is one of the few seats Republicans believe they have a chance to flip. Democratic incumbent Rob Bonta faces a challenge from Republican Nathan Hochman, formerly an assistant U.S. Attorney in California, who emerged as an unexpected candidate because he rejected claims from former President Donald Trump that the 2020 election was rigged. Hochman has voiced support for stronger gun restrictions and has backed pro-abortioin rights policies.

California taxes remained as a voter priority throughout the summer. There was renewed interest in the issue during October, even capturing the No. 1 “search” concern statewide, according to internet searches recorded and analyzed over the past month by Google Trends.

The increased interest in taxes may be related to a ballot initiative that seeks to raise taxes for residents who make more than $2 million annually in order to generate revenue to go towards programs that would help people purchase electric cars and install charging stations (Proposition 30). Some of the money would also go toward wildfire prevention and other programs.

Voters have since soured on Proposition 30. A new poll conducted by Political Data Intelligence, which analyzes voting trends, finds that only 41% of likely voters say they plan to support the measure, while 52% said they would vote against it. Seven percent are undecided. According to Paul Mitchell, vice president of Political Data Intelligence, the numbers could sound the “death knell” for Proposition 30.

“It does create a rather large challenge for the yes side,” Mitchell said, “if they not only have to win over undecided, which you would expect at this point, but they also have to peel back ‘nos’.”

Education took hold as the top researched issue among California voters at the beginning of October. The issue has taken center stage in local school board elections as Republicans seek to make gains lower down the ballot. 

The California GOP launched a program called “Parent Revolt” that seeks to recruit candidates to run for local school board elections, looking to capitalize on parental concerns of COVID-19 lockdowns and so-called Critical Race Theory classroom instruction. 

The push is to increase the number of conservative representatives on school boards, which are typically used as a training ground by Democrats to elevate board members into other political races.

The rise in crime has come forth as a top issue, frequently alternating as one of the top three concerns heading into Tuesday. Crime has also taken precedence in several House races as voters have urged candidates to take a tougher stance on reducing violence in the state. Those pushes come after it was reported that murders in California in 2020 reportedly saw the largest increase since 1960.

Voters have also focused on inflation, but not as much as taxes and crime. The spike in interest is largely due to the latest report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that clocked inflation 8.2% for the 123 months ending in September. The number was higher than expected and contradicts the Federal Reserve’s aggressive interest rate hikes.

Abortion was once believed to the main catalyst for a so-called “blue wave,” but the issue is said to have declined nationwide in voter importance. That’s not the case in California. Proposition 1, which seeks to codify the right to an abortion in the state constitution, became a key issue in the attorney general race after Hochman came out as “pro-abortion-rights” candidate thus  making him more appealing in a race that many believe is against a somewhat vulnerable incumbent.

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