By The Signal Editorial Board
There’s a quirk in the Constitution. It’s in the requirements for a member of Congress.
Some of it, you’d expect. A member of the House of Representatives must be at least 25 years old, a U.S. citizen for at least seven years, and at the time of election, must reside in the state that he or she will represent.
It doesn’t say anything about districts.
So, theoretically, you could live in San Francisco and represent a district in San Diego.
That, of course, is not the “tradition.” Traditionally, members of the House tend to live in the districts they represent.
We would advocate that this should be the case for our own district, California’s 25th Congressional District.
Carpetbaggers need not apply.
When Rep. Katie Hill announced her resignation a week ago, less than a year into her first term, speculation immediately mounted about the future of the congressional seat, and who would occupy it.
It’s really two questions, although they both will probably end up with the same answer: Who will serve the remainder of Hill’s two-year term, and who will take the seat in the regularly scheduled November 2020 election?
Because there’s so much time left in Hill’s term, a special election will be triggered, with its own primary. Hill announced on Wednesday that Friday would be her final day, which would then start the clock on the statutory two-week window in which Gov. Gavin Newsom is required to call for the special election.
From there, the process takes three to five months. So, we will elect a representative for the remainder of the term, and that person will serve a half-year or so in the House.
At the same time, we will vote in the regular March primary and the top two candidates from that will square off in the November 2020 election. Realities being what they are, the person who wins the special election would be the odds-on favorite to win the general election.
The 25th is a so-called “purple” district — neither solid red nor solid blue — in which it’s conceivable that either a Republican or Democrat could win the seat. And, after Hill defeated former Rep. Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, in the highly publicized and expensive election of 2018, flipping the district from a Republican to a Democrat for the first time, the district has a high national profile.
That national profile has already drawn some non-resident interest. Republican George Papadopoulos, a former adviser to President Trump, has announced he will run. And, Alex Padilla, California’s Democratic secretary of state, pondered a run early this past week but later announced he would not seek the seat.
Who knows who else will come out of the woodwork? So far the field includes the previously announced candidates: Lancaster City Councilwoman Angela Underwood Jacobs, former naval officer Mike Garcia and Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Mark Cripe, who are Republicans, and Democratic business owner David Rudnick.
Add to that Papadopoulos and our local state Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, who announced she would run for the 25th almost immediately after Hill announced her resignation.
Knight, for his part, has said he is strongly considering another run for his former seat, but as of this writing has yet to officially enter the race.
Regardless, our hope for the 25th District is this: Whoever wins the seat, in the special election and in November 2020, should be someone with a real connection to the district. Whether it’s a Democrat or a Republican, the 25th should be represented by one of “us,” the people of this district — not some carpetbagging out-of-towner.
We seek a representative who understands the communities of the district, the specific issues it faces and the values of its people, and will successfully carry legislation that benefits the district, its residents and its businesses.
The Constitution allows newcomers and even carpetbagging non-residents to represent the 25th.
We hope its voters won’t.