US Rep. Mike Garcia claims win in swing district north of LA

Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Garcia claimed victory Friday in his back-and-forth contest with Democrat Christy Smith in the 25th District north of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES -- Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Garcia claimed victory Friday in his back-and-forth contest with Democrat Christy Smith in the 25th District north of Los Angeles, a Southern California battleground that Democrats had captured just two years ago.

In a statement, Garcia said “victory is clear,” given the votes remaining uncounted.

The Associated Press has not declared a winner in the race.

Smith said Garcia's assertion of victory was premature and “dangerous to our democratic process."

With thousands of ballots uncounted, "this race remains too close to call,” Smith said in a statement.

The race represented a sharp contrast for voters.

A Republican win in the Democratic-leaning district would mark another bright spot for Republicans in the heavily Democratic state. Republicans earlier picked off two Democratic-held House seats in the state, even in a year when Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in California in a landslide.

Garcia, a top graduate at the U.S. Naval Academy, flew over 30 combat missions in Operation Iraqi Freedom and later worked in the defense industry. Smith is a former school board member.

It’s the kind of suburban district both parties coveted in the fight to control the House.

Hill stepped down in 2019 after acknowledging an affair with a campaign worker. The House opened an ethics probe into an allegation that she was intimately involved with a member of her congressional staff, which Hill denied.

Hill had won the district as part of a 2018 rout for Democrats, when the party seized seven Republican-held House seats that year in California. At the time, the 25th District had been the last GOP-controlled House seat anchored in Los Angeles County.