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Congressman Mike Garcia Hangs on to Narrow 104 Vote Lead in Congressional Race

Garcia and Assemblywoman Christy Smith race has been too close to call for two weeks

By Evan Symon, November 16, 2020 5:31 pm

On Monday, the latest results for the 25th Congressional District race between incumbent Congressman Mike Garcia (R-CA) and Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Santa Clarita) show that the race is still too close to call despite two weeks of vote tabulation.

Congressman Garcia is, as of Monday afternoon, up by 104 votes, 166,617 to Smith’s 166, 513.

The 25th Congressional District, which covers large parts of Los Angeles County and Ventura County has been in a state of flux since the 2018 election. That year, Democrat Katie Hill defeated Republican Congressman Steve Knight, flipping the seat blue as part of the blue wave in Southern California that year. However, Hill quickly embroiled herself in many controversial acts, including inappropriate relationships with staffers, resulting in a huge scandal. After a House ethics investigation was ordered against her, she resigned in October 2019, forcing a special election.

Assemblywoman Christy Smith. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

After the dust settled with candidates in the area in the Primary, Assemblywoman Smith and former Navy pilot Mike Garcia were chosen as the respective Democratic and Republican candidates in the special May 2020 election. Despite the District flipping blue the year prior and the popularity of Smith, the GOP retook the district due to lingering doubt from the Hill scandal and Republicans giving special special focus to Hispanic and middle-class voters. The final tally had Garcia winning with nearly 55% of the vote. It was the first time since 1998 that a House district had been flipped back to a Republican.

However, Democrats took the loss in stride and focused on the November election. Smith, running again, refocused on being against Trump, and banked on a higher turnout from Democrats to defeat the GOP a la 2018. But Garcia remained strong throughout the election, not losing ground the same way Knight had lost to Hill in 2018 by changing up his platform by including more on reducing the national debt and instituting term limits, making the Smith campaign scramble for responses. Possible FEC violations also hurt Smith going into the home stretch, while Garcia did everything possible to keep Hispanic votes in the GOP’s favor in the 25th.

Since the election, the race has continued to be too close to call. Every few days, a new ballot update nudges up one candidate over another by around 100 votes.  Both Smith and Garcia have been urging voters on Twitter to make sure their ballot has been counted, with each candidate now literally fighting over singular votes.

Garcia, Smith battle it out over the last handfuls of votes

“As of now, we are up by just 159 votes (0.04%). Every vote matters in this race, so make sure to track your ballot to confirm that it has been received,” tweeted Garcia last week.

“If you cast your ballot but it has not been received, please message us ASAP.”

“Thank you all for your kindness, patience, and support. My team and I appreciate you! We will continue to honor the process as officials do their important work,” messaged Smith only the day before.

Political experts watching the race still have no idea who will ultimately win, with many saying it may not be ultimately known until next month.

“Everyone thought it would have been called by now,” explained Heath Becker, a New York-based political analyst who focused on swing districts during the 2020 election. “This race is so important for both parties, so neither is going to give the other any ground on this.”

“The GOP was all too happy to retake the seat earlier this year, especially if it meant finally shrinking the number of House seats California Democrats had. And the numerous Republican wins this month, including Steel and Kim down in Orange County only embarrassed them further.

“But in a bigger lens, these races are showing what most Californians already knew: that race and gender are not pre-dispositioning people to vote for a certain party. Age too, as some of the GOP candidates are a bit younger. California Democrats always prided themselves on having more women, more minorities, and more younger people be on their side. And look who has been beating their own candidates and making them lose seats: Republican candidates who are women, minorities, and who skew younger. Republicans are rebounding, and Garcia, a Hispanic whose parents immigrated from Mexico, will only help cement that.”

“Democrats don’t want to lose any more seats, and they especially want to retake a seat that includes part of LA County, known to be a bastion of democrats. They’ve also been trying to get outer suburb districts for years, especially going into the Inland Empire, and losing the 25th will put a further hold their as northern LA County and Orange County and crumbling down for them once again. Smith winning would be a bright spot for them on the Congressional level, as it has been pretty bad for them so far. And it might get worse if there are a bunch of special elections next year if Biden grabs current California Congress members for his cabinet.”

As of Monday, only around 86% of precincts have been counted due to such close voting totals. Final voting numbers are expected in the next few weeks, with the hope of either Garcia or Smith being announced as the winner by December.

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Evan Symon
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