Republican widens edge in tight U.S. House fight north of LA

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Garcia For Congress

This photo, date and location not known, provided by the Garcia For Congress campaign shows Mike Garcia. The former naval fighter pilot and Santa Clarita businessman is challenging Democrat Christy Smith in 2020, arguing that the Democratic agenda is out of step with the district anchored in northern Los Angeles County. Californias tarnished Republican Party is hoping to rebound in a handful of U.S. House races but its candidates must overcome widespread loathing for President Donald Trump and voting trends that have made the nations most populous state an exemplar of Democratic strength. (Garcia For Congress via AP, File)

LOS ANGELES – Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Garcia extended his narrow lead Tuesday over Democrat Christy Smith in the 25th Congressional District north of Los Angeles, where ballot-counting continued in the back-and-forth contest.

By the end of last week, Garcia had opened up a lead of just over 100 votes. An updated tally from Los Angeles and Ventura counties showed his edge had grown to 422 votes.

Garcia, a former Navy fighter pilot and defense industry executive, captured the swing district seat in a special election in May against Smith. The post was left vacant after former Democratic Rep. Katie Hill resigned in 2019 amid a House ethics probe.

The district, anchored in Los Angeles County but paired with a slice of Ventura County that is home to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, has a Democratic registration edge.

When Hill captured the district in 2018, it was the last Republican-held House seat anchored in Los Angeles County.

If Garcia holds on for a win, he will have overcome the district's Democratic registration edge as well as a poor performance by President Donald Trump, who lost California to Joe Biden by over 5 million votes, according to an unofficial tally.

California Republicans this year set out on what seemed like an improbable task: reclaim a string of House seats lost in 2018 in a heavily Democratic state, with widely unpopular Trump at the top of the ticket.

So far, Republican candidates seized two Democratic-held districts and are threatening in another: In the Central Valley, Republican former Rep. David Valadao is leading in his bid to retake his old job from Democratic Rep. TJ Cox, who unseated him two years ago.

Last week, Republican Young Kim defeated Democratic Rep. Gil Cisneros in a district anchored in the one-time GOP stronghold of Orange County, and Republican Michelle Steel earlier claimed the 48th District in Orange County from Democratic Rep. Harley Rouda.