The Editors of The Wall Street Journal report on the race that flipped a House in California from Democrat to Republican for the first time in 22 years. They write:
Well, that was unexpected. While Nancy Pelosi and Democrats were busy plumping up a $3 trillion coronavirus spending bill on Tuesday, GOP Navy veteran Mike Garcia ran away with a Democratic-leaning California House district in a special election. It’s the first district in the state that Republicans have flipped since 1998.
The vast majority of votes were cast by mail, and some ballots still need to be counted. But Democrat Christy Smith, who represents the San Fernando Valley and Santa Clarita in California’s Assembly, conceded late Wednesday with Mr. Garcia ahead by 12 points. Mr. Garcia’s lead appears insurmountable.
Republicans controlled California’s 25th district north of Los Angeles until 2018 when Democrat Katie Hill defeated Steve Knight by nine points amid an anti-Trump wave that turned six other GOP districts in the state blue. Ms. Hill stepped down last year after it was discovered that she had carried on a romantic relationship with a campaign aide.
The working-class district has been trending Democratic over the years as more Latinos have moved in. Democrats hold a 6.6 point voter registration advantage and have been beating Republicans in mail-in ballots. Ms. Smith also boasted endorsements from Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren and Gov. Gavin Newsom, among other Democratic big-shots.
Democrats tied Mr. Garcia, an Iraq War veteran and son of immigrants, to President Trump and claimed he wanted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. They also targeted the President’s handling of the coronavirus. But moderate voters may be more unhappy about progressives in Sacramento than Mr. Trump.
“I don’t want California politicians to bring the same policies of high taxes, out of control homelessness and lower wages to Congress,” Mr. Garcia said. He also pointed out how California’s AB5 law that classifies gig workers as employees, which Ms. Christy voted for to curry favor with unions, was costing independent-contractor jobs.
The candidates are likely to square off again in November, and Democrats think they’ll have an edge with higher turnout. But Mr. Garcia’s victory shows that the politics of 2020 are more fluid and competitive than the progressive media consensus believes.