Pundits have argued that congressional control is pivotal for the Republican Party to be successful in pursuing its agenda next year, even if President Donald Trump is re-elected in November.
One small step in that direction was announced this week when a Republican emerged victorious in a California race to fill a U.S. House of Representatives seat previously occupied by a Democrat, as The Epoch Times reported.
Mike Garcia, a former U.S. Navy fighter pilot, scored a resounding victory in Tuesday’s election over Democratic rival Christy Smith, flipping the 25th District seat from blue to red.
“I’d like to congratulate him”
While the district, which spans much of the suburbs north of Los Angeles, had previously been a Republican stronghold, Katie Hill won the seat in 2018. The former congresswoman was compelled to step down from the position midway through her first term, however, following a scandal involving provocative photos and allegations of an improper relationship with a staff member, according to reports.
A special election this week determined that Garcia would fill out the remainder of her vacated term. As of Tuesday evening, he led Smith by a 12-point margin, according to Fox News.
The Democratic candidate conceded in a statement the following day.
“While it’s critical that we ensure every vote is counted and recorded, we believe that the current tally shows Mike Garcia is the likely victor in the May 12 special election,” she wrote, according to The Epoch Times. “As such, I’d like to congratulate him.”
“The first time in many years”
In his statement, Garcia said the result made it clear that his campaign’s “message of lower taxes and ensuring we don’t take liberal Sacramento dysfunction to Washington prevailed,” Reuters noted.
The president himself even weighed in on Twitter to celebrate the victory of a candidate who received his endorsement.
“Big congressional win in California for Mike Garcia, taking back a seat from the Democrats,” Trump wrote. “This is the first time in many years that a California Dem seat has flipped back to a Republican.”
Smith had gone into the election on the strength of endorsements from prominent Democrats including former President Barack Obama and 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
While this was a special election held under unique circumstances, the GOP victory cannot easily be dismissed as meaningless as both parties head into November’s election. In fact, it could be a sign that higher rates of enthusiasm among Republicans will translate into stronger turnout at the polls.