Politico: Special election tomorrow may hand Dems 'unthinkable' defeat in House race

Politico has never been known as a cheerleader for Republicans, so when it headlines, "Democrats are on verge of the unthinkable: Losing a swing district in California," you know that the donkeys are facing a humiliating and symbolically important blow to their House majority and a possible portent of disaster on November.

Recall that pervy Congresswoman Katie Hill resigned after being caught in sexual involvement with her staff.  Tomorrow will see a special election in her suburban Los Angeles district largely in the Inland Empire, pitting a Dem state rep against a ruggedly handsome retired Navy combat veteran fighter pilot, who just happens to be Hispanic.

Twitter video screen grab.

Amy Mutnick of Politico writes:

California Republicans may be on the verge of something they haven't done in more than two decades: capturing a congressional seat from Democrats in the nation's most populous state.

Tuesday's special election runoff in the Los Angeles suburbswhich is taking place because of former Rep. Katie Hill's resignation last year, has Democrats bracing for defeat in a district they flipped by 9 points in the 2018 midterms. Armed with a highly touted recruit and an older, less diverse electorate than in general elections, Republicans feel they are on the verge of an upset.

Private polls show the race in the state's 25th District is within just a few points, and Democrats are already downplaying expectations for their nominee, state Assemblywoman Christy Smith, citing depressed turnout in the midst of a pandemic and the negative impact of the scandal surrounding Hill, who resigned amid allegations that she had inappropriate sexual relationships with staffers.

The GOP is running a solid candidate:

And President Trump is all in in support:

A sure sign of the Dems' panic is a last-minute change in the rules.  The Wall Street Journal reports:

The race is also being watched because of its heavy reliance on mail-in voting. In March, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, signed an executive order requiring county elections officials to mail a ballot to every registered voter in the California House district. Some in-person voting will also be allowed, as state law requires.

President Trump became more involved in the race with a series of tweets over the weekend alleging that it was rigged after county officials on Friday said they were adding a new in-person polling station in a part of the district with more minority voters.

"They are trying to steal another election. It's all rigged out there. These votes must not count. SCAM!" Mr. Trump tweeted Saturday.

The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk announced Friday it would open an in-person voting center in Lancaster at the request of the city's Republican mayor. On Monday, the head of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party had complained that the registrar's office had failed to provide voting centers in areas that are predominantly black or Latino and called for an additional voting center in Lancaster.

Mr. Garcia said on Twitter Friday night that Democrats had waited until the last minute to call for a new polling center.

That polling center is one of only 13 that will be open (instead of the customary thousand) and is located in an area of Lancaster with a large and growing black population.  The district voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 by a margin of 7 points, but Smith made a serious blunder:

The latest trouble for Democrats occurred last week when a leaked video of a Smith virtual town hall showed her mocking her opponent's focus on his military résumé. It was a misstep in a district that includes Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works in Palmdale that designed the U-2 spy plane and the F-35; other major defense contractors; and military bases.

Smith apologized. "Without question I have the deepest respect for Mike Garcia's service to our country and I'm sorry for comments that I made that might suggest otherwise," she said in a statement.

But the National Republican Congressional Committee called it "disgusting," and Trump weighed in, writing on Twitter: "Vote @MikeGarcia2020 by May 12th! His opponent @ChristyforCA25 . . . Now she's mocking our Great Vets! We need Navy Fighter Pilot Mike Garcia in #CA25!"

Moreover, Republican voters have a history of turning out in special elections more heavily than Democrats.

If Garcia wins, expect the national media to mostly ignore the election.  Even though his term would be only a few months, it would make him the incumbent and give him the opportunity to provide constituent services that are sorely needed during the lockdown.

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