Republicans try to retake California House seat vacated by Democrat Katie Hill, in special election

Hill vacated the seat after a scandal last year involving an improper relationship with a staffer

Image
Voters in the 25th CA Congressional District
Voters in California's 25th Congressional District
(MARK RALSTON/Getty)
Last Updated:
May 12, 2020 - 1:31pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Republicans in Southern California are hoping Tuesday to retake the House seat in the state's 25th Congressional District left open when Democratic Rep. Katie Hill resigned last year amid allegations of an improper sexual relationship with a campaign staffer.

Hill won on the seat in 2018 over GOP incumbent Steve Knight — as part of Democrats' successful mission to win big enough in Southern California to retake the House. 

The special election race is being closely watched by political handicappers, with the Cook Political Report last month shifting the balance of the district from "lean Democratic" to "toss-up."

The district is nearly 40% Latino, giving Democrats a demographic advantage there. The winner will still face a challenge in November as the district undergoes normal-year elections as planned. 

Hill, who blamed her downfall in part on "misogynistic culture," has endorsed Democratic state Rep. Chrissy Smith for the seat from which she resigned. 

Running against Smith is Mike Garcia, a former naval officer and once a business development director at Raytheon Technologies.

Garcia has received a key endorsement from President Trump, who has called the election "a really big deal for our country," and who has accused Democrats of "trying to steal the Mike Garcia Congressional Race in California."

Hill's victory in 2018 brought an end to a quarter century of Republican control of that district, which had not elected a Democrat since 1990. Tuesday's election thus represents a chance for the GOP to re-flip a solidly red seat it lost two years ago by eight percentage points. 

Garcia's own lack of political experience echoes that of Hill's. She had worked as both a social services advocate and a goat farmer at various points in her life. Garcia has had a similar eclectic background, on his campaign website touting his military service and his professional life, including his "great success" in flipping real estate in the district.