As early votes were tallied Tuesday evening, Democrat Christy Smith had a small lead in the race to immediately replace Rep. Katie Hill in the 25th Congressional District, but not enough to avoid a May 12 runoff.
In the 25th District, Smith had nearly 28% of the early votes, with Republicans Steve Knight and Mike Garcia each garnering about 23%. None of the other 10 candidates had more than 5% of the early vote totals.
Confusing matters in the district that stretches from the Antelope Valley into Ventura County is the fact that voters are casting ballots twice — once in a special election to fill the balance of Hill’s term, and again in a primary election to fill the seat for the next two years. The major candidates seeking the office appeared on both ballots.
If a candidate in the special election earns more than 50% of the vote — an unlikely scenario given the 13-candidate field — that person will win the seat outright to finish out Hill’s term, which runs through the rest of the year. If no one gets a majority, the top two vote-getters will advance to a May 12 runoff.
The early results for the regular primary showed Smith boasting a more generous lead with 31% of the votes, and Garcia ahead of Knight with 26% of the returns to Knight’s 23%.
In the regular primary election, the top two vote-getters will advance to the November general election.
The special election was instigated by Hill’s resignation amid the release of salacious photos online and allegations of an extramarital affair with a staff member, forcing a special election.
The 25th District is one of several ranging from the Antelope Valley to Orange County in which Republicans hopes to regain a foothold after a series of defeats in 2018.
Smith was endorsed by many of the area’s biggest Democratic names and by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Her campaign website touts a variety of priority issues, led by improving public education, ending “corruption in Washington,” boosting support for first-responders and ensuring access to affordable health care.
Among the other Democrats vying for the seat is Cenk Uygur, who created and co-hosts a YouTube show dubbed “The Young Turks.” Uygur briefly had an endorsement from presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, but the backing was withdrawn amid criticism of some of Uygur’s past statements and positions. Uygur said he is running for the seat largely to “call out” corruption in Washington by getting “money out of politics.” He said he wants to “bring our democracy back to the people.”
Other Democrats in the running are Robert Cooper III, a UCLA professor; lawyer Anibal Valdez-Ortega; Christopher Smith, a filmmaker; and Getro Elize, a patient caseworker.
Knight, who leads the list of Republican hopefuls, is the former congressman who lost the seat to Hill two years ago. An Army veteran and former Los Angeles police officer, Knight also served on the Palmdale City Council and in the state Legislature.
Knight says he proved himself in Washington to be an advocate for “fiscal responsibility, job creation and public safety.” He also said he worked for federal drought relief measures to help the state and prioritized efforts to expand the aerospace industry in the Antelope Valley.
Garcia is a former Navy pilot also seeking the seat who said he was inspired to vie for the post because Hill “did not represent our moderate district. 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.”
Also among the Republican hopefuls is George Papadopoulos, a former Donald Trump foreign policy adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He said he continues to support Trump’s agenda, noting his pro-life stance and support of funding construction of a wall on the southern border.
Also on the ballot as Republicans are bankruptcy attorney David Lozano and businessmen Kenneth Jenks and David Mercuri. Otis Lee Cooper, described as a bounty hunter, is running without a political affiliation.
In another closely watched race in Orange County, Democrat Katie Porter will compete in a November runoff with Republican Greg Raths for the 45th Congressional District seat. Porter, an attorney and UC Irvine law professor, was challenged by Raths and five other Republicans in a district that was long considered a safe conservative area but has seen a growing influx of Democrat voters. Porter garnered 43.6% of the vote with 100% of precincts reporting to Raths’ 20.3%. Laguna Hills City Councilman Don Sedgwick, the owner of a chain of jewelry stores, was the second-place Republican on the ballot, with 15.4% of the race.
The district covers an inland area between roughly Mission Viejo and Yorba Linda.
In the coastal 48th District, incumbent Democrat Harley Rouda will fight for another term in the November general election against Republican Michelle Steel, the chairwoman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. Steel outpaced Rouda, picking up 40.4% of the votes, with 100% of precincts reporting, to Rouda’s 39.7%. As all of the other candidates on the primary ballot were Republicans, diluting Steel’s results rather than Rouda’s, those results may not bode well for the incumbent come November.
Rouda said he is dedicated to attacking “relentless divisiveness” in Congress, saying, “The time has come to embrace common sense for common ground.” He said he will fight for women’s rights, work to address climate change and support public education.
Steel said she is running for Congress to provide a “strong voice in Washington, D.C., who will honor promises made and stand up for us and our values.” She pointed to her work on the Board of Supervisors, saying she fought higher taxes while working to reduce traffic congestion and “ensuring our bays and coastlines are clean.”
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: