Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia announced on Friday that he would be running for Congress in 2022, hoping to replace Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) who announced that he would not be running in 2022 less than a day before.
An immigrant with his family from Peru at the age of 5 in the early 1980’s, Garcia graduated from both CSU-Long Beach and the University of Southern California (USC). Garcia began his political career as a Republican, which his family was after arriving in the U.S. due to then-President Ronald Reagan’s amnesty bill allowing them to become citizens. Garcia was first the Youth Coordinator for George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign, followed by him founding the Long Beach Young Republicans in 2005 and becoming an aide and campaign manager to Republican Long Beach City Councilman Frank Colonna in 2006.
Following Colonna’s failed bid to become Mayor that year, Garcia began to shift politically due to coming out as gay, re-registering as a Democrat in 2007. Following a few years of teaching communications at USC and CSU-Long Beach, Garcia was elected to the Long Beach City Council in 2009. While Garcia fumbled some issues while a Councilman, such as both affordable housing advocates and detractors alike criticizing his affordable housing plans for the city, Garcia’s status as an LGBT Latino who was shown to be union friendly and fought a long battle to name a park in Long Beach for LGBT politician Harvey Milk quickly got him noticed by the national media. Garcia used that newfound influence to become Mayor in 2014 and a keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention in 2020.
Garcia’s tenure has been seen as many as rocky. While Garcia has won praise for his environmental stances and drastically increasing trade at the Port of Long Beach, he also faced being recalled last year due to his stance on policing following the death of George Floyd. Garcia’s reaction to COVID-19 has also been seen as mixed, as although he has been a strong advocate of vaccinations and mandates in Long Beach, his support of giving ‘hero pay’ pay bumps to grocery store workers caused many vital food stores to close in the city earlier this year.
In a tweet on Friday, Garcia said that he would be running for Congress in 2022, posting a video that highlighted his immigrant past.
“Hey everyone, I’m running for Congress,” tweeted Garcia on Friday. “My mom brought me to this country when I was 5. She risked everything so that I could succeed. Every single kid deserves the same shot that this country has given me.”
His initial campaign video as well as his website also promote him and his family immigrating to the country, as well as his response to the the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hey everyone, I’m running for Congress.
My mom brought me to this country when I was 5. She risked everything so that I could succeed. Every single kid deserves the same shot that this country has given me.
— Robert Garcia (@RobertGarcia) December 17, 2021
Political insiders note that Garcia’s notoriety and experience have already made him a strong front runner for Congress.
“Right out of the gate, Garcia comes in as a long-time Mayor who also happened to be the first Latino and LGBT Mayor of the city too,” explained Hailey Murray, a Los Angeles County political tracker, to the Globe on Friday. “He’s checking a lot of boxes for people.
“The recall attempt can hurt him, and some of his policies will really turn away GOP voters, as well as a fair amount of independent voters and blue dog Democrats. There are more than you think in Long Beach.
“And besides the recall and everything COVID, Garcia will need to defend himself when it comes to the recent port fiasco. He got a lot of goodwill in helping expand the port, and now with it being really backed up, he may have to face some hard questions there. He can fall back on his COVID-19 stance and city vaccination stats only so far.”
Other Democrat and GOP challengers are expected to launch bids for the House seat soon.
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