A conservative political scientist and election analyst says Republicans should be encouraged by their candidate's win this week in a special congressional election in California, even though the victory could be short-lived.
Former Navy fighter pilot Mike Garcia captured an open U.S. House seat north of Los Angeles on Wednesday, giving Republicans a rare victory in one of the nation's most Democratic states. His win marks the first time in more than two decades that a Republican came out on top in a Democratic-held congressional district in the Golden State.
Garcia defeated Democrat Christy Smith in the special election to complete the remainder of the term of former Democratic Representative Katie Hill, who resigned last year. But the Navy veteran won't have much time to celebrate because he has to campaign for the November rematch against Smith for the full two-year term that begins in January 2021.
Dr. Charles W. Dunn, professor emeritus of government at Clemson University, predicts Garcia won't be a "lackluster" candidate.
"The opponent who he faced was supposed to be a very strong candidate. He handily took care of her," Dunn points out. "And he wasn't supposed to be able to handily take care of her."
Even though Garcia defeated her by a decisive 12 points in the 25th California District election, Smith – along with fellow Democrats – claims the result will be different in November when President Donald Trump's name on the ballot is expected to draw far more Democratic voters to the polls. Dunn disagrees with that assessment.
"It is a little too simplistic in looking at the race – and Republicans have put up a very credible candidate in Garcia," he argues. "And then we have to look that where there's a very substantial rural population, that with the right … candidate Republicans could do very well."
Garcia's win, he adds, shows Republicans can compete in a district where Clinton defeated Trump in 2016.