Special elections traditionally get lower turnout than regular elections. But there’s too much riding on the outcome of the special election race for 25th Congressional District, which stretches through Simi, Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys, for voters to sit this one out. The winning candidate will be dispatched to Washington, D.C., immediately and will be thrust into what may be the most consequential debate of his or her career: how to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Voting has been going on for weeks to fill the remainder of the term left open by Democratic Rep. Katie Hill’s resignation last fall. As of Saturday, just 39% of registered Republicans and 25% of registered Democrats had turned in a ballot. But Tuesday is the final day to cast a vote, either by trekking to one of a dozen vote centers in Los Angeles and Ventura counties or by popping a ballot back in the mail. All voters in the district should have received one, per the order of Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Ideally, voters will cast their ballot for state Assemblywoman Christy Smith, whom the editorial board has enthusiastically endorsed. Smith is a levelheaded centrist with years of relevant legislative experience, including serving two terms on the Newhall School District board and doing education policy analysis.
By contrast, her opponent, Republican Mike Garcia, is woefully unprepared. The former Navy pilot and Raytheon executive has no experience in elective or appointed office. He doesn’t offer much of a platform either, and relies instead on flogging the usual conservative tropes of protecting freedom, reducing taxes and fighting the “Democrats’ dangerous socialist agenda.”
What Garcia does have on his side is the full support of the GOP, along with the propensity of Republican voters to turn out more reliably than Democratic ones. Republicans are desperate to take back this seat from Democrats after losing it to Hill in 2018, even if its means backing an unknown and untried candidate over the former congressman, Steve Knight of Palmdale, whom Hill unseated.
No one seems more eager for this to happen then President Trump, who tweeted over the weekend and again Monday morning the specious accusation that Democrats are trying to steal this election. And how are they attempting this heist? In the usual way: by making it easier for people to vote.
Los Angeles County elections officials opened a vote center in Lancaster Saturday after concerns that voters in that Antelope Valley city, which has a large African American and Latino population, would be disenfranchised because the closest voter center was nine miles away. Among those requesting the new vote center was Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris, a Republican who is rooting for Garcia.
We encourage voters to ignore the partisan noise and simply vote for the objectively superior candidate, Smith. And do it now.