Super Tuesday marked the end of the California Presidential Primary for 12 candidates seeking to fill former Rep. Katie Hill’s seat after her sudden resignation last year from Congress amid controversy, with the frontrunners Christy Smith, Mike Garcia and Steve Knight leading the way based on preliminary early returns.
As of 10.13 p.m., Smith led with 28.8% of the vote, or 12,061 votes, followed by Garcia at 23.8% (9,992) and Knight at 22.0% (9,220), according to preliminary state tallies with 71.4% of precincts reporting.
At Route 66 Classic Grill in Canyon Country, Garcia expressed confidence in being among the top two just more than an hour before the polls closed.
“I believe we are in the top two, no doubt,” he said. “I’m hoping to be No. 1 by at least five points if everything goes the way I expect it to, and just have to win the runoff in May. That’s when the real fight starts.”
Over in Stevenson Ranch, Smith’s campaign hosted an election night event with the local club, the Democratic Alliance for Action. Smith was unavailable for comment before the polls closed, but Kunal Atit, Smith’s deputy campaign manager, was also confident she would be in the top two.
Knight, who was in Lancaster on Super Tuesday, was unavailable for comment.
Voters in the 25th Congressional District — an area that encompasses the Antelope, Santa Clarita and Simi valleys, and a portion of the San Fernando Valley — cast ballots twice for this particular district. One would go in the special election to fill Hill’s remaining term and another to nominate a candidate for the new term set to start in January 2021.
The competitive race has attracted characters from in and outside the district, including frontrunners Smith, D-Santa Clarita and Garcia, a Republican executive at Raytheon, as well as former Republican Rep. Knight, former Donald Trump aide George Papadopoulos and Cenk Uygur, a Democratic media personality running the progressive talk show “The Young Turks.”
In the special election, 12 hopefuls — six Democrat and six Republican — are vying for a seat to finish the remaining term.
Uygur earned 4.8% of the votes as of press time and Papadopoulos received 2.2%, according to state preliminary numbers.
Early results for the special election showed that Smith also led, with 33.1%, followed by Garcia at 26.2%, Knight at 21.1% and Uygur at 5.2%, according to state tallies.
Smith, a freshman California legislator and former Newhall School District board president, joined the race a day after Hill’s resignation. She said she launched her campaign because “the people of the 25th Congressional District want and need a new voice to fight for them in Washington.” She has received several high-profile endorsements, including from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and state Sen. Kamala Harris.
Former Naval officer Garcia, who has been endorsed by former Republican Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon and the Los Angeles County Republican Party, has prioritized national security, solving the nation’s $22 trillion debt and improving the economy, as well as highlighting his loyalty to President Donald Trump.
Knight, who launched his campaign in November, is seeking to make a comeback after Hill flipped the longstanding Republican district blue in 2018. He served from 2015 to 2019 and found an opportunity for re-election to finish a number of goals he had through his first two terms, he said when he launched his campaign.