On Wednesday, former Navy pilot Mike Garcia was close to reaching a plurality of votes against Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Santa Clarita) following Tuesday’s 25th Congressional District special election.
According to the California Secretary of State, Garcia currently has 80,337 votes, or 56% of the vote, with Smith trailing with 62,998 votes, or 44% in the Los Angeles and Ventura County district.
The numbers closely follow exit polling numbers, including Garcia receiving more mail-in votes and Smith having a slight advantage at polling places. Enough ballots remain uncounted to give Smith a victory. As such, Garcia has not yet given a victory speech and Smith has not given a concession speech. However, both candidates seemed to show signs of the situation in statements on Wednesday.
Garcia noted that “It is clear our message prevailed” and released a Twitter post with a statement titled ‘I’m ready to work.’
I'm ready to go to work… pic.twitter.com/99CPZ6iZH6
— Mike Garcia (@MikeGarcia2020) May 13, 2020
Smith thanked supporters on Wednesday and stated that she was ‘looking forward to seeing a thorough counting of the remaining ballots.’ Her message echoed her tweet on Tuesday noting “We started this campaign, together. Today, let’s finish strong, together!”
— Christy Smith (@ChristyforCA25) May 12, 2020
The election, largely seen as a glimpse of things to come in the November election and what voters and candidates would do in a coronavirus stunted election cycle, has already been called as a GOP victory despite no candidate declaring victory and Republican leaders such as the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) calling on Smith to concede now.
President Donald Trump himself said on Twitter “Big Congressional win in California for Mike Garcia, taking back a seat from the Democrats. This is the first time in many years that a California Dem seat has flipped back to a Republican. Also, Tom Tiffany beat his Democrat rival BIG in Wisconsin. Two great Congressional WINS!”
Big Congressional win in California for Mike Garcia, taking back a seat from the Democrats. This is the first time in many years that a California Dem seat has flipped back to a Republican. Also, Tom Tiffany beat his Democrat rival BIG in Wisconsin. Two great Congressional WINS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 13, 2020
The seat became vacant last year following former Congresswoman Katie Hill resigning due to a sex scandal. Both Garcia and Smith beat out well known former Congressman Steve Knight in the March primary. Smith held an early lead, but Garcia soon surged due to coronavirus restrictions reducing candidate interaction, district voters feelings for the coronavirus restrictions, a GOP rally to retake a Democratic seat, where candidates fell on California-important issues such as housing, AB 5, and homelessness, fallout lingering from the Hill scandal, and Smith’s campaign smearing Garcia’s military record.
Should Garcia cling to his lead and win, he would be the first Congressional GOP candidate to retake a Democratically held district in California since 1998. Many GOP leaders, such as the NRCC and the California Republican Party, have been hoping for a Republican tide to turn in California for years.
Whether Garcia or Smith wins, the victory would be short lived as the election would only fill out the rest of Hill’s term to January 2021. In November, both Garcia and Smith will have to face each other yet again, only this time with one of them being the incumbent.
Updated voting results are expected Friday as thousands more mail-in ballots are set to arrive and be counted.