25th Congressional District race: Smith, Garcia head to runoff

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Surrounded by family, friends and supporters, Christy Smith and Mike Garcia celebrated their victories Tuesday night, now set to face off in May and November to fill the vacant 25th Congressional District seat. 

After former Democratic Rep. Katie Hill stepped down from Congress amid accusations that led to an ethics investigation in November, the pool of candidates vying for a seat in the district — an area covering the Antelope, Santa Clarita and Simi valleys and Porter Ranch — grew to 12. 

That number was dropped to two, with Smith and Garcia advancing to the congressional special election runoff in May and the general election in November. 

With 100% of precincts reporting, Smith, D-Santa Clarita, who represents the 38th Assembly District, led the race throughout the night and reached 29.8% of the vote, or 26,305. Garcia, a Republican executive at Raytheon and former Navy pilot, earned 22,542 votes (25.5%) by Wednesday morning, according to state preliminary results. 

Tallies under the special election race indicated that Smith collected 31,422 votes or 34.3% of the vote. Garcia received 27% of the vote, or 24,708. 

Smith, who celebrated on Tuesday in Stevenson Ranch alongside Los Angeles City Mayor Eric Garcetti and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, said Wednesday she was “incredibly proud of my team and all of our amazing volunteers,” adding that, for her, “it’s always been about serving the community and simply getting the work done.” 

“And I think that resonates with people right now,” said Smith. “I think a lot of voters are just kind of over the hyperpartisan and back-and-forth and they just want somebody who they have access to who’s going to do the job for them.” 

While the victory was declared, the assemblywoman said. “We’re going to continue to talk about the issues that impact people like expanding access to affordable health care, dealing with our environmental concerns globally, (such as) wildfires impacting our district…and continue to see good job growth with nice, middle-class wage-paying jobs.” 

The work continues for Garcia, too, according to a statement released on Wednesday. 

“Our victory tonight is the result of hard work by a lot of people in our community who are tired of radical career politicians ruining our state and causing Washington to be dysfunctional,” Garcia said in the statement. “Our fight continues to protect the freedoms I served to defend and to keep radical socialists from taking over Congress and our country.”

Garcia attributed part of his success as a frontrunner to building a grassroots operation of about 300 volunteers and receiving more than 10,000 donors, as well as securing key endorsements from former Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon and former Gov. Pete Wilson. 

“I think this district is more conservative than I think people are giving it credit for,” he said Tuesday night in Canyon Country. “Families are starting to pay attention and the people that didn’t normally get engaged and have been in politics are now very activated. This is why we’re going to win. The district’s getting awakened and voters are paying attention.” 

Former Rep. Steve Knight, who was seeking re-election after a 2018 defeat by Hill, ran third throughout the night, earning 20.1% of the vote, or 17,776 votes as of Wednesday morning. 

Knight and his campaign did not return requests for comments after multiple attempts to reach him. 

Far behind Knight was Cenk Uygur, host of the progressive talk show “The Young Turks,” with 5.2%, and former Donald Trump aide George Papadopoulos at 1.9%.  

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