After more than a yearlong campaign, Republican Mike Garcia joined the House on Tuesday as California’s newest 25th Congressional District representative — but the work is just beginning, and it will start with constituent services, he said.
“We haven’t had a representative in Congress in months, so there’s a huge backlog of constituent services and casework that we need to knock out and start closing in on, and that list just keeps getting higher with the COVID-19 federal payments still not being paid to some local folks,” he said Monday during a phone interview.
On Tuesday, joined by his wife and two children at the U.S. Capitol, the former fighter pilot was officially sworn in after winning the special election against Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, to complete former Rep. Katie Hill’s unfinished term, which expires Jan. 3.
The California Secretary of State has not yet declared a winner, but ballot tallies have shown Garcia in a consistent lead by more than 50% of the vote. As of Tuesday, he had earned 95,088 votes (54%) and Smith received 78,234 votes (45.1%).
Garcia was joined by Tom Tiffany, a Republican from Wisconsin who also won a special election last week, as the two were sworn in by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco.
After an elbow-bump congratulatory gesture, Garcia offered brief remarks about what he hopes to accomplish as a House representative:
“I show up today, as not only a patriot, but now a citizen legislator, to make sure that we do what’s right for our country first, to make sure that we do what’s right for my district that I represent and to hopefully get through this crisis as a solid, unified country, becoming stronger as we do so, more cooperative in the efforts and, hopefully, making this nation the strongest the world has ever seen for several decades, millenniums to come.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic changed the dynamic and strategies for campaigning, Garcia’s priorities remain the same, he said.
“They haven’t changed at a high level. I’ve always been committed to the Constitution and capitalism and competition. Obviously, now there’s a stronger focus on the economy and getting through this crisis, making sure that small businesses are getting taken care of and that we’re pulling up out of this shutdown in a very logical way but still mitigating the risks and health concerns,” said Garcia.
He will face off against Smith once again in November for a full, two-year House term.