Mike Garcia grew up a single-minded kid from Southern California: He just wanted to fly fighter jets. His decision to enter national politics wouldn’t come until decades later, after he had seen one California election too many. A career as a Navy aviator would lead to a decade in the defense industry. But it was the 2018 elections that prompted the Republican to enter public life, as his home state moved deeper into Democratic-dominated government that he faults for job-crushing regulation and climbing taxes. “I don’t want my country to turn into what my state has become,” says Garcia, who claimed a vacant US House seat Tuesday north of Los Angeles. The political newcomer’s win over Democrat Christy Smith marked the first time in over two decades that a Republican captured a Democratic-held congressional district in California, the AP reports. The GOP now holds seven of California’s 53 House seats.
What was supposed to be a tossup election ended up with Garcia holding a comfortable 12-point edge in an incomplete tally Wednesday. The son of a Mexican immigrant father, Garcia will go to Congress as a fresh face who campaigned as a supporter of President Trump and railed against “socialist-style” policies coming from the Sacramento statehouse. Smith delivered her congratulations but said she expected their roles to be reversed in November, when the two meet in a rematch for the full, two-year House term that begins in January. (The seat became vacant last year after then Rep. Katie Hill resigned, resulting in an unusual May special election during which voter turnout skewed Republican.)