Smith, Garcia in Close Rematch; Rouda, Steel Battle in Congressional Race

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Assemblywoman Christy Smith was clinging to a razor-thin lead today in her bid to unseat Mike Garcia in a rematch for the 25th Congressional District post.

With initial vote-counting completed from Tuesday's election, Smith had 50.5% of the vote, to Garcia's 49.5%, with less than 3,000 votes separating them. It was not immediately clear how many ballots still remain to be tallied in the race, and mail-in ballots can be received and counted for as many as 17 days after the election.

Smith is hoping to avenge an earlier loss to the Republican Garcia and take back the seat for the Democratic Party.

It was technically the fourth time in nine months the duo faced off at the ballot box. In March, Smith and Garcia finished one-two in a special election to fill out the term of Rep. Katie Hill, who resigned following the online release of salacious photos and allegations of an extramarital affair with a staff member.

On that same ballot, Smith and Garcia also topped essentially the same field of candidates in a separate primary race to fill Hill's seat for the next two years.

In May, Smith and Garcia squared off in the runoff of the March special election to complete Hill's original term, and Garcia emerged victorious and was sworn into Congress.

The winner in the current race will take over the seat for the next two years.

The 25th District stretches from the Antelope Valley into Ventura County. It was one of several Southland districts targeted by Republicans after sweeping losses the party suffered in 2018.

Smith was endorsed by many of the area's biggest Democratic names and by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Her campaign website touted 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.

Garcia is a former Navy pilot 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.''

In a closely watched race for the 45th Congressional District seat in Orange County, Democratic Rep. Katie Porter emerged victorious over Republican Greg Raths. Porter, an attorney and UC Irvine law professor, was challenged in the March primary 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.

The district covers an inland area between roughly Mission Viejo and Yorba Linda.

In the coastal 48th District, incumbent Democrat Harley Rouda found himself narrowly trailing Republican Michelle Steel, the chairwoman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. With initial vote counting completed, less than 2,000 votes separated them, with Steel holding 50.3% of the vote. Again, it was unclear how many ballots remain to be counted.

Rouda had touted his achievements in Congress, insisting he can work across the aisle to reach consensus agreements. He said he wants to “continue our work to lower prescription drug costs, protect our coastline, and stand up to the insiders and special interests that run Washington.''

Steel said during her campaign that she was running 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.''

Another Orange County congressional race being closely watched is Rep. Gil Cisneros' battle with former Assemblywoman Young Kim in the 39th District, which also became much closer as votes continued to be tallied, with the two candidates splitting the total nearly equally. Kim was clinging to a thin lead of about 1,000 votes, giving her 50.2% of the vote, with an unknown number of ballots yet to be counted.

The race is a rematch of 2018, when Cisneros defeated the former Rep. Ed Royce's protege.

Two years ago, Kim was leading and even traveled to Washington, D.C., for orientation for newly elected congressional representatives, only to be overtaken by Cisneros in late-arriving ballots in a district that has residents in Orange, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino counties.

In the 49th congressional district, Democratic Rep. Mike Levin defeated Republican challenger Brian Maryott.

Photo: Getty Images

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