US House win by ex-combat pilot cements Republican control
Former Navy fighter pilot and Republican Rep. Mike Garcia won an unexpected win in the U.S. House in a heavily Democratic district on Wednesday. This gave the GOP control of this chamber and gives the party rare reasons to celebrate in a state that is dominated by Democrats.
The conservative Republican was elected to a third term in a District with a 12.5-point Democratic registration advantage. In 2020, Joe Biden carried the district by double digits. Garcia won the third consecutive election over Christy Smith (a former legislator).
Garcia was first elected in May 2020 in a special election. He was then reelected two year ago with just 333 votes. After his district, which was left-leaning, was redrawn to become more Democratic, Garcia faced a tougher challenge.
Nearly 75% of ballots were counted by Garcia, which was 54.2%, compared to 45.8% for Smith.
Garcia flew more than 30 combat missions in Operation Iraqi Freedom and is the only GOP House member to have a district that is anchored in heavily Democratic Los Angeles County.
To control the House, it takes 218 seats. The latest California results have shown that Republicans now hold 218 of the House’s seats, while Democrats claim 211.
Another key race in the state saw Democratic Rep. Mike Levin defeat a challenger from Republican businessman Brian Maryott. This was in a Southern California area that spans Orange and San Diego County.
Nearly all votes had been counted and Levin had 52.65% to Maryott’s 47.4%
Levin stated that he is eager to return home to Washington and continue his work on affordable health care, climate changes, and veteran assistance. Biden visited the district in the final days of the election in hopes of giving Levin an extra boost.
Garcia’s victory, which gave Republicans House power, was accompanied by a lot of political sass. It happened in a state that is so Democratic that no Republican has won a statewide election since 2006. It also houses Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker from San Francisco. California is a liberal monolith. However, there are pockets of conservative strength in California, especially in Southern California’s suburbs and rural areas.
However, even with these wins, Republicans will still be a minority in the state’s congressional delegation.
Only nine of the 52 state seats, the largest delegation to Congress, had been won by GOP candidates as of Wednesday. Five districts were still being counted, with one district being a matchup between two Democrats.
Smith, who was a former legislator, claimed Garcia was out-of-step with district voters. He was then endorsed by Trump in 2020. After that, he joined House Republicans, who rejected electoral votes in Arizona and Pennsylvania, and opposed Trump’s impeachment. She also pointed out Garcia’s opposition for abortion rights.
Garcia stressed his military service, and cited his vote to support $2,000 stimulus checks as an example of his political independence. Garcia has also highlighted local issues such as illegal marijuana cultivation.
California’s primary House battlegrounds include Orange County, a suburb southeast of Los Angeles that was once stronghold for the GOP but has since become more diverse and Democratic, and the Central Valley which is inland and sometimes called the country’s salad bowl because of its agricultural production.
The Central Valley was the closest contest in the state, with Democrat Adam Gray winning a narrow lead over Republican John Duarte to win a seat in District 13.
Gray’s campaign set up a committee to raise money for a recount, underscoring the race’s closeness. Gray led by 600 votes with almost 85% of ballots counted.
Orange County Democratic Rep. Katie Porter held a close 3-point lead over Republican Scott Baugh in one the nation’s most important races. Baugh had cut her lead in half earlier in the week, but Porter who is a star of party’s progressive wings, rallied. About 90% of votes were counted.
The 22nd District of the Central Valley, where approximately two-thirds have been counted the votes, saw Republican Rep. David Valadao vote to impeach the then-President Donald Trump by a 5.6 point margin over Democrat Rudy Salas.