Former President Barack Obama endorsed State Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Santa Clarita) on Tuesday, wading into the May 12th special election to replace Katie Hill, who resigned late last year over a sex scandal.
Smith is facing off against businessman and former U.S. Navy fighter pilot Mike Garcia. She apologized last week for appearing to mock Garcia’s military service, contrasting it with the law books on her office shelf.
The 25th congressional district includes the northern portion of Los Angeles County, notably the city of Santa Clarita. It also includes Simi Valley, in Ventura County — home of Ronald Reagan’s presidential library.
The district was one of seven Republican-held seats that Democrats flipped in 2018 after it voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election while returning a Republican (then-Rep. Steve Knight) to Congress.
It is considered a possible pickup for Republicans in 2020 — if they can surmount institutional advantages for Democrats, such as “ballot harvesting,” which the GOP has asked Gov. Gavin Newsom to suspend due to coronavirus.
Politico‘s Jake Sherman noted Obama’s announcement:
>@BarackObama has endorsed Christy Smith in CA-25 — an upcoming special election in SoCal.
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) May 5, 2020
Republicans were quick to pounce. The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) noted that Obama “waited until CA-25 voters had been returning their ballots for THREE WEEKS before endorsing her.”
President Donald Trump had endorsed Garcia earlier, prompting Smith to attack Trump for what Democrats allege is his slow response to the coronavirus pandemic — a line of attack the party will likely use in November.
Hillary Clinton endorsed Smith before Obama did:
There’s a key special election coming up in California on May 12, and I’m happy to support @ChristyforCA25.
Christy has been an effective public servant from the school board to the CA Assembly, and we need her in Congress.
Help her protect this seat! https://t.co/5wzotXH5r0
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) May 1, 2020
Hill resigned after news emerged that she had an affair with a woman in her campaign office. She blamed her estranged husband for leaking the information, and for posting intimate photographs of her on the Internet.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.