GOP Rep. Mike Garcia wins northern L.A. County race, giving Republicans control of the House. It’s the second time in three months that a Democrat has won the same district, which includes parts of Compton, Hawthorne and Pasadena.
“I didn’t think so, when we were losing this district by a couple of points,” the congressman says in a short speech, his voice raspy.
Garcia, 37, is not an underdog to the Democratic opponent, former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, a 32-year-old Vietnam War veteran and former L.A. County supervisor, who ran on a promise to “put the people first.”
The victory makes Garcia the first Democrat from this region to win a Southern California congressional seat since 1978.
Garcia, who lives about 45 minutes from downtown Los Angeles, is running for his fourth term; Baca has held the seat since 2003. With less than a month before the start of the new Congress, Republicans were eager for a victory.
‘People are tired’
The results are the latest in a series of defeats for Democrats in Southern California, where Republican control of the congressional delegation is growing.
Baca’s last two wins in L.A. County came by less than 500 votes.
This time, the two sides were in close races throughout the month. Baca had the advantage heading into the last few days of the election.
But Garcia, a lifelong Democrat who had been trying to unseat Baca, was able to pull ahead in the final days, especially along Interstate 5 at Calabasas. Garcia held a lead of 5 percentage points at 11:41 p.m. on election night.
Voters in the district “really turned out in force to support their congressman, who had raised so much money, and I think that’s a big change in a very long time,” Baca said.
Garcia’s victory could boost Republicans’ hopes for a congressional majority, which would be the first time since the 1994 election that the party would have a majority.
“For the first time in a long time, we’re going to have a majority, and I