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How California Success Helped Republicans Take Control of the House

Republican Congressman Mike Garcia had a target painted on his back this year.

Garcia barely won a special election in 2020 and a full term later that year, twice defeating Democrat Christy Smith, a former state representative, the second time by just 333 votes.

However, Garcia’s district in the northern Los Angeles suburbs fell 12 percentage points for Democrat Joe Biden in this year’s presidential runoff, and when its boundaries were redrawn by the state’s New District Commission, his Democratic voter registration margin grew to more than 12 percentage points.

All of this made Garcia, a former Navy fighter pilot, a potential prime target in 2022 as Democrats attempted to block Republicans from taking control of the House of Representatives.

Ultimately, however, Garcia managed a surprisingly easy re-election, defeating Smith by about 5 percentage points, and coincidentally his win gave the GOP the 218 seats they needed to take control of the House. Also coincidentally, Garcia’s 27th congressional district borders the 20th CD of GOP House Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is likely to be the next speaker.

The Democratic campaign hierarchy for some reason had not launched the all-out assault on Garcia that had been widely expected, and Smith, who had lost for the third time, was outraged.

“Our campaign has almost zero outside resources to fight this fight. In fact, from the start of this race, I fought against the institutional power of my own party,” Smith said in one of several Twitter posts in which she lamented that her lack of party support meant “we didn’t stand a chance.”

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