Republican Mike Garcia Leads Special Election for Former Rep. Katie Hill’s House Seat

Republican candidate Mike Garcia is leading Democratic challenger Christy Smith in the special election for California’s 25th congressional district, which was held by former representative Katie Hill until her resignation over an inappropriate relationship with a staffer.

With 314 of 411 precincts reporting by Wednesday morning, Garcia held 56 percent of the vote to Smith’s 44 percent. The AP did not project a winner because the number of mail-in ballots to be counted was unknown.

“I won’t give a victory speech tonight,” Garcia told reporters in a conference call on Tuesday night. “We’ll save that for hopefully tomorrow night.”

Smith maintained that the election was still too close to call.

“It is critical that every ballot cast is counted and the voice of every CA-25 voter is heard,” Smith said.

Hillary Clinton won the 25th district by 7 points in 2016, and in 2018 Hill defeated incumbent Republican Steve Knight by 9 points. President Trump is not popular in the district.

Republicans and Democrats have been watching the district as a possible bellwether for the 2020 general election, indicating how moderate Democrats may fare in swing districts. The 2018 elections saw a wave of moderate Democrats take win seats in areas generally favorable to Republicans, such as Elissa Slotkin of Michigan’s 8th district.

Trump has weighed in on the California race via Twitter, endorsing Garcia and slamming Democrats after an in-person polling station was opened at the last minute in a Democrat-leaning area of the district.

“They are trying to steal another election,” Trump wrote on Saturday. “It’s all rigged out there. These votes must not count. SCAM!”

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