For the first time since 1998, the Republicans have managed to flip a U.S. House seat in California as Republican candidate Mike Garcia defeated Democrat Christy Smith in the special election race for California’s 25th Congressional District – signaling that support for the Republican party is as strong as ever.
Garcia led Smith comfortably with a 12-point edge at the time that Smith conceded the election in the battle for the swing-district seat vacated by Katie Hill after her resignation.
“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,” Smith said in a statement posted to Facebook on Wednesday afternoon. “As such, I’d like to congratulate him.”
This district is one that Trump took a beating in during 2016, losing it by 6 percentage points to Hillary Clinton, making this notable shift even more promising heading into the 2020 presidential election.
President Trump celebrated the victory along with another key congressional win in Wisconsin early Wednesday morning saying, “Big Congressional win in California for Mike Garcia, taking back a seat from the Democrats. This is the first time in many years that a California Dem seat has flipped back to a Republican. Also, Tom Tiffany beat his Democrat rival BIG in Wisconsin. Two great Congressional WINS!”
The president had recently made a push to promote Garcia as a candidate strong on guns and immigration, leading some Democrats to believe he would be a liability in liberal stronghold California
Democrats threw everything they had behind Smith including endorsements from former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other high-profile Democrats, yet it still was not enough.
The seat became vacant last year after the resignation of Hill, who stepped down after admitting to an affair with a campaign worker and the House opened an ethics probe into an allegation that she was involved with a member of her congressional staff, which Hill denied.
Garcia released a statement on Wednesday saying, “After seeing more results last night, it is clear that our message of lower taxes and ensuring we don’t take liberal Sacramento dysfunction to Washington prevailed.”
“I’m ready to go to work right away for the citizens of the 25th Congressional District,” Garcia continued. “For too long, the people of our district have not had representation, and it’s time their voice is heard in Washington. These are difficult times, and too much is at stake – our small businesses, our workers and our families need all the help they can get.”
In 2018 the Democrats stole seven Republican House seats in California, handing the party control of the chamber. This victory, however, could mark the beginning of a historic reversal as support for the president continues to rise.
In Wisconsin, Tom Tiffany, the Republican senator mentioned by Trump in the celebratory tweet won his special election by a landslide on Tuesday in the state’s 7th congressional district. Trump won Wisconsin by less than a point, but carried the district by 20 points, in 2016.
Meanwhile, President Trump himself posted historic numbers in the Nebraska presidential primary on Tuesday, more than doubling his 2016 total in the state.