By Caleb Lunetta and Tammy Murga
The race to fill the 25th Congressional District seat in 2020 took a shift over the weekend, as former Rep. Steve Knight officially announced his candidacy Saturday and candidate Mark Cripe called it quits Sunday.
Knight served in Congress for the 25th District, which represents the Santa Clarita, Simi and Antelope valleys, from 2015 to 2019. He lost his re-election bid to now-former-Rep. Katie Hill in 2018.
“We took a good week or so to look at the race and what I brought to the table,” said Knight over a phone call Saturday. “It’s a different deal right now, and we’ve got a representative who resigned and left a vacant seat, and I think we absolutely need to get someone in there and I believe I’m the best person.”
His campaign would be looking at finishing a number of goals he had through his first two terms, he said.
“In the second term, I worked on quite a bit of infrastructure and some school funding issues at the federal level. I didn’t get to bring that forward in the third term,” Knight said. “Obviously, veterans are going to be a high priority and the military. And infrastructure, especially around Santa Clarita, and down through Palmdale and even out to Simi Valley, is a huge issue right now and for the next 50 years. And then school funding, when I was in, we looked at school funding for school safety and issues and we’re going to bring up some new issues.”
Previous experience and past accomplishments, Knight added, would help a representative go into Washington, D.C., and not miss a step.
GOP contender Mike Garcia, who was unavailable for comment Monday, said Saturday in a Facebook post that he was “disappointed in Steve Knight for his decision to join the race in an effort to regain the seat he lost to Katie Hill” because “Knight’s decision to run represents a missed opportunity for a senior statesman and a party to fully unite behind a winner and send a clear message that CA-25 does still belong to the people.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom has yet to call a special election to fill Hill’s vacated seat, which she left after resigning Nov. 3 amid allegations of intimate relationships with subordinates. The winner of the special election would serve the remainder of Hill’s term, and the winner of the November 2020 election would be elected to a regular two-year term.
However, regardless of how the special election date shakes out, Knight has said he is running.
“We’re running for the whole deal,” said Knight. “There’s a lot of issues that are on the table right now that I’ve already reached out to members in leadership to help out with some of those issues in our area. I believe I’m the best candidate just for accomplishment and experience.”
Cripe exits race
Cripe, a Los Angeles County sheriff’s sergeant and former U.S. Marine who entered the race in May, announced Sunday he was ending his campaign.
“I had to make a hard decision,” Cripe said Monday. “We have a crowded race; we have a lot of people running now and it came down to dollars. We were running a lean campaign and let the people know. We had hoped we would get support from somewhere, but it came down to dollars and cents, and are at a place where we aren’t able to move forward.”
Cripe had raised a total of $21,305 for the entire campaign cycle and reported $4,000 in cash on hand, which he plans to use to wind down his campaign, he said Monday. He added that his focus will now be to increase accessibility for the district’s veterans to resources, possibly in the form of an app or digital platform. Cripe also plans to reach out to the new winning representative to bring a V.A. facility to the district area.