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Endorsement: Send Christy Smith to Congress

Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Santa Clarita) and state Assemblywoman Christy Smith.
(Associated Press)

In February, The Times Editorial Board urged voters in Santa Clarita and Simi and Antelope valleys to choose Democratic Assemblywoman Christy Smith to replace Rep. Katie Hill (D-Santa Clarita) in the 25th Congressional District in the March primary.

In our view, the experienced and centrist Smith was the best of several candidates hoping to lead this politically divided district.

Months later, when the special election to fill Hill’s unexpired term went to a runoff, we endorsed Smith again over Republican Mike Garcia, a former Navy pilot and Raytheon executive with no political experience, extremely conservative views and no real platform of his own.

His campaign offered only broad statements about his strong support for the 2nd Amendment, President Trump’s terrible border wall, reduced taxes and fewer government services, as well as his opposition to the “dangerous” but undefined Democratic Party “socialist agenda.” We hoped to plumb those statements for more details over the last year, but Garcia has ignored every invitation to talk to the editorial board.

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Garcia won the special election, but the race is not over yet. On Nov. 3, he and Smith face each other for the third time this year in a runoff for the full two-year term that begins in 2021. And, once again, we are urging voters in this district to choose Smith.

Garcia’s campaign has painted a picture of Smith as an extreme liberal who supports defunding police (she doesn’t) and who is responsible for Assembly Bill 5, California’s controversial gig-work law (she isn’t, though she is a coauthor of legislation to fix some of the problems with AB 5). But Smith’s history on the Newhall School District Board and later in the Assembly shows she’s the opposite of an extremist: She’s a public servant more interested in accomplishing things than in partisan politicking or racking up political points.

Here’s one example. This year, when state lawmakers were forced to cull their proposals because the pandemic had truncated the legislative session, Smith pushed through one measure — a bill focused on improving evacuation plans for vulnerable populations, such as residents in skilled nursing facilities, during disasters. Not sexy, but necessary — and supported by both Democrats and Republicans.

Indeed, if there is an extremist in the race, it’s Garcia, who has described himself as more conservative than most Republicans. And his short tenure in Congress appears to support that. As a staunch abortion foe, one of his first actions was to support legislation to restrict access to legal abortions. Indeed, he’s shown to be exactly the shallow, partisan loyalist that his campaign suggested he would be.

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Congress has enough political extremists pounding away at the partisan wedge. What it needs are lawmakers more interested in quietly working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make government better — lawmakers such as Christy Smith.


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