Mike Garcia, a retired Navy Airman and Raythen executive, won California’s District 25 Congressional, formerly held by disgraced Democrat Katie Hill, for the Republicans, the first time the GOP has flipped a seat in the state since 1998.
“We did make history this evening,” Garcia told supporters.
With 81 percent of precincts reporting, Garcia led Democratic state Assemblywoman Christy Smith, 56 percent to 44 percent, but The Associated Press had not declared a winner, Roll Call reported early Wednesday.
The hesitance to call the race already in the Southern California district outside Los Angeles was because, in the largely mail-in election, with ballots postmarked Tuesday but received by Friday still to be be counted, experience in previous years showed sudden bursts of between 6 to 10 percentage point gains by the Democratic candidates after the initial voting count.
The special election was to replace freshman Hill for the remainder of the term after she resigned in light of naked photos of herself, her husband and staffers involved in “throuples.” She won the seat with a 9-point margin from GOP Rep. Steve Knight in 2018.
Garcia and Smith are expected to face-off again in a regular election in November.
U.S. President Donald J. Trump, who lost the district by 7 percentage points in 2016, lent digital support to Garcia over social media ahead of the vote.
Vote @MikeGarcia2020 by May 12th! His opponent @ChristyforCA25 voted to fire teachers, and cut their salaries while bumping up her pay. Now she’s mocking our Great Vets! We need Navy Fighter Pilot Mike Garcia in #CA25! https://t.co/MEnGMvl8it
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 11, 2020
A first-generation American, Garcia’s record-setting flying performance earned him the honor of becoming one of the first Super Hornet strike fighter pilots in the Navy. He flew over 30 combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom in the skies above Baghdad, Fallujah and Tikrit.
“At the age of 6 I knew I wanted to fly fighter jets off of aircraft carriers in defense of my country, my decision to run for Congress is a continuation of that desire to serve and a sense of responsibility to serve my country and my district,” he wrote on his campaign site.
Garcia was nominated by Representative Howard “Buck” McKeon to attend the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, where he graduated in the top 3% of his class with a Major in Political Science, with 60% of his syllabus comprising engineering courses, and a Minor in Spanish. In May, 1998, he was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy with orders to attend flight school in Pensacola, Florida.
As an F/A-18 pilot Garcia was deployed on the USS Nimitz, a nuclear powered aircraft carrier. He was lauded as one of the best leaders and one of the most naturally talented pilots in the Navy. He saw combat operations during the first 6 months of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and participated in over 30 combat sorties in the skies above Baghdad, Fallujah and Tikrit.
“My operational service in the Navy was the pinnacle of a career. While my family made great sacrifices the reward of serving our country and providing for its defense was well worth it,” Garcia said.
Accruing over 1400 hours of operational flight time after nearly 20 years of military service, Garcia decided to separate from the US Navy with an Honorable Discharge and focus on his family. While he continued as a reservist instructor pilot, Garcia moved back to the 25th District in 2009 and began to work for the Raytheon Company.
During his now 10 years as an executive at Raytheon, Garcia has been responsible for the generation of billions of dollars of revenue and the creation of hundreds of jobs for his company and our district.
“The aerospace industry in the 25th District should be commended and supported by our local leadership. This industry brings high-end technology to the warfighter and high paying jobs to our community. There is nothing more noble than that!” he said.
When asked why he is running for Congress in 2020 Garcia said:
“I’m running because I don’t want California politicians to bring the same policies of high taxes, out of control homelessness and lower wages to Congress. Our tax burden is skyrocketing and legislation like AB5 cracks down on independent contractors, small business and limits jobs. We need term limits to get rid of career politicians in both parties. I have the choice to stand on the sidelines and see what happens but that is not in my DNA. This is an extension of my desire to serve, this time to fight for my district. We need to be aggressive this time. To that end, I am seeking support to become the 25th District Congressional Representative in 2020. If not me, who? If not today, when?”
Garcia is the husband to Rebecca Garcia, the owner of the Rebecca Rollins Interiors in Santa Clarita, and the father of Preston, 13, and Jett, 3.
Last month, Garcia attended the memorial parade to honor fallen Gunnery Sgt. Diego Pongo of the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion in Camp Legeune, N.C. He was killed last month in Iraq but his family had to postpone his memorial service due to restrictions on large gatherings to help to slow the spread of the Corona Virus.
He said on Twitter: “It was a privilege to be a part of this morning’s parade to honor Gunnery Sgt. Diego D. Pongo and pay tribute to his family…”
1/ It was a privilege to be part of this morning's parade to honor Gunnery Sgt. Diego D. Pongo and pay tribute to his family. Diego is a Marine from Simi Valley who was killed last month while fighting ISIS in Iraq. Let us never forget the men and women… pic.twitter.com/784uwrgHxe
— Mike Garcia (@MikeGarcia2020) April 26, 2020