Friday, May 15, 2020
Republican Mike Garcia Won a Democratic Congressional Seat in California
California’s 25th Congressional District starts in eastern Ventura County (Simi Valley) and winds through Northern Los Angeles County into the Antelope Valley. It’s been reliably Republican for decades until 2016 when Hillary Clinton carried it by 5% over Donald Trump. Democratic registration exceeds Republican by 6.6%. Many of the newcomers are Hispanic. Katie Hill, the Democratic candidate defeated Steve Knight, the Republican incumbent, by 7% in the 2018 midterms. Six Republican districts switched Democratic in 2018. Most of the Republican candidates went to bed on election night believing they won by comfortable margins. Then came the ballot harvesting returns, the modern equivalent of ballot stuffing with late returns in Chicago and Landslide Lyndon Johnson’s Texas Senate election. Ballot harvesting, allowed only in California. allows individuals, in essence party operatives, to collect the absentee ballots and present them in bulk at the voting booth. Obviously the Democrat operatives troll for votes in dorms, nursing homes and Democratic neighborhoods. We can assume they assist voters in filling in the absentee ballots. We can also assume absentee ballots for Republicans disappear. Katie Hill ran an outstanding grassroots and media campaign in 2018. She exuded empathy. She emphasized being a team player and working with others. That was a Democratic theme in the 2018 midterm elections. Of course, Representative Katie Hill and the other new Democrats voted as a block with everything Speaker Pelosi wanted. It was just a campaign ploy. Representative Hill resigned last year because of a sex scandal (leaked photos). Her seat opened up. The two contenders were Democratic State Representative Christine (Christy) Smith and Republican Mike Garcia. Representative Smith recycled Katie’s Hill ads, running the same theme. She works with both parties to increase accessibility and affordability. She will work with both parties to protect pre-existing conditions and drive down drug costs. Accessibility and affordability were two of her main themes as she surrounded herself with nurses, doctors and firefighters, as well as teachers. Other themes were “America’s Hurting,” because of Covid-19 and “Together We Care,” which includes her handing out supplies to homeless encampments. And yet they seemed packaged! Polls must have shown her in trouble because right after the positive empathetic ads were the negatives with ads trashing President Trump and Mike Garcia: 1) Donald Trump put America at risk with Coronavirus; 2) Mike Garcia s Trump’s Choice for Congress; Mike Garcia wants to destroy the Affordable Care Act; and on Twitter “Donald Trump Wants This Guy in Congress. Help Me Stop Them Both.” So much for working together. It’s what President George W. Bush would call a “mixed message.” The media praised Assemblywoman Christy Smith as a “centrist.” A centrist in modern California Democratic politics is far to the left of most Americans. Representative Elect Mike Garcia ran a far different campaign. He allied himself with President Trump. His TV ads had two themes: 1) The California he came back to after his Navy Service has deteriorated from the California he left. He wants to bring it back. In essence, he said, but didn’t use the words, “Make California Great Again.” Don’t bring Sacramento’s disfunction to Washington. 2) Assemblywoman Smith twice voted to raise taxes in only 1½ years in the Assembly. Mike Garcia’s father emigrated from Mexico to California. Mike could not be portrayed as an older, out of touch white male. Instead Mike Garcia can serve as an inspiration to Mexican Americans of the American Dream working. Mike entered Annapolis after high school. He became a Navy aviator after graduation, flying F/A-18 Hornets in 30 missions over Iraq. He left the Navy and joined Raytheon in the Antelope Valley. One more subtlety. Christy Smith projected warmth and empathy, including bring food to the homeless. Bringing alms to the homeless is not a winning issue in California today. Voting by mail was encouraged. Only 11 voting booths were available until last week when the state opened up a 12th booth in heavily Democratic Lancaster. The Republicans, including President Trump, accused the Democrats of trying to steal the election.1` Hugh Hewitt, my Chapman colleague, once wrote a book: “If it’s Not Close: They Can’t Cheat. Crushing the Democrats in Every Election and Why Your Life Depends On it.” The final vote wasn’t close. Mike Garcia won with 54.9% of the vote, 95,088 to 78,234 the first time since 1988 a Republican captured a Democratic Congressional seat in California. The Democrats’ public reaction: It’s not a big deal – they’ll win the seat back in November with a larger voter turnout. If they believe that, they’re delusional.