In what is thought to be a dominantly democrat state, former Navy fighter pilot Mike Garcia has made history and become the first Republican in California to flip a seat from blue to red in over 20 years. Congressional District 25 (CD25) resides in Northern Los Angeles County with the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library sitting on it’s west end.
CD25 had long been a Republican stronghold until the now infamous former Congresswoman Katie Hill flipped the seat in the 2018 election. Her term did not last long however, as she was forced to resign when it came to light that Hill and her husband were involved in a “throuple” affair with one of her staffers. Following this bombshell revelation, it was discovered that Hill had multiple affairs with her staff and eventually resigned mid-term sparking a Special Election.
The Special Election in a district easily carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016, pit former Navy Fighter Pilot Mike Garcia, a Republican, against Assemblywoman Christy Smith, a Democrat and local state legislator.
“I’m running because I don’t want my nation to become what this state has become,” Garcia pledged in a debate held via Zoom. “No drama, just results.”
Assemblywoman Christy Smith had long been considered the likely victor in the 25th Congressional District given that the district went Democrat in 2018 by nine points and local media aggressively promoted her on the basis that she was the more “experienced” politician. Further complicating matters was the onset of the Coronavirus and attempts by Smith’s campaign to use the specter of President Trump as a way to attack Garcia.
In the end, voters of California’s 25th Congressional District found the media and Smith’s arguments to be wanting as Mike Garcia emerged victorious by a massive 12% victory margin. In a district that democrats won in 2018 by nine points no less.
The experience argument likely failed because it was suspect from the start. Mike Garcia is a decorated Navy Fighter Pilot (flying over 30 combat missions), first generation American raised by immigrant, received his master’s degree from Georgetown, dedicated husband and father to two boys, and has been a successful local business executive for last 10 years.
President Trump ended up not being the negative factor that Smith had expected. In fact, more evidence suggests that it was the leaders in Smith’s own Democratic Party that contributed to her massive loss, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Gov. Gavin Newsom as loud public supporters of Smith.
Nationally, Democrats have tried desperately to spin the loss as a tale of “low voter turnout” to deflect implications of this outright loss. Indeed, in past special elections since the Trump administration was sworn into office has seen attempts by the national democrats to characterize every Republican loss as somehow the direct result of Trump’s unpopularity.
The National Republican Congressional Committee’s communications team was quick to point out that California Secretary of State Alex Padilla “lauded California’s March 3rd turnout [about 161,000 CA-25 voters] as ‘record numbers of ballots cast,’ it was the most ‘Californians had ever voted during a primary election,’ and ‘it was a compelling win for voter participation.’ Meanwhile, 165,000 voters cast their ballots in the May 12 special election and Padilla hasn’t said a word.” (source: NRCC)