Republican fighter pilot to challenge freshman Dem in key California race

Rep. Katie HillKatherine (Katie) Lauren HillFreshman House Dems surge past GOP in money race Dems offer bill directing IRS to create free online tax filing service Liberals surprised by tax vote vow to kill 'Free File' provision MORE (D-Calif.) received a new Republican challenger as fighter pilot and first-generation American Mike Garcia announced his candidacy, setting up a 2020 battle for a key House district.

Garcia, the son of a Mexican immigrant and an Iraq War veteran, announced his candidacy for California’s 25th District Wednesday.

He will challenge Hill, a moderate whose victory helped the Democrats retake the House last year and decimate the GOP delegation from the Golden State.

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In his campaign announcement, Garcia sought to tie Hill to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezMichael Steele: A missed opportunity at holding banks accountable House Dem dismisses impeachment push: 'I'd rather defeat' Trump at ballot box Tlaib rallies in support of Green New Deal at Detroit town hall MORE (D-N.Y.) and other House progressives in pushing what he called a “Socialist agenda.”

“I have been at the edge where bullets fly and lives are lost,” Garcia said in a press release. “I believe America is the greatest country in the world. I’ve seen men and women lose their lives defending this country. And I am disgusted that politicians in Washington are voting in lockstep with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to push a Socialist agenda that jeopardizes everything we’ve risked blood and treasure to defend.”

Hill thanked Garcia and his family for their service and wished him luck. 

"I know how tough these primaries can be. With three Republicans now filed to run and likely more who will jump in, I wish them all luck," she said in an emailed statement. "I am deeply grateful to Mr. Garcia for his service to our nation and thank him and his family for all they have given to keep America safe."

Republicans had held the seat in California's 25th District for 25 years until Hill defeated incumbent Rep. Steve KnightStephen (Steve) Thomas KnightRepublican fighter pilot to challenge freshman Dem in key California race Freshman Dem endorses Harris’s 2020 bid GOP trading fancy offices, nice views for life in minority MORE.

Garcia touted the endorsements of former Reps. Buck McKeonHoward (Buck) Philip McKeonRepublican fighter pilot to challenge freshman Dem in key California race Overnight Defense: Pompeo certifies military aid for Saudi coalition in Yemen | Trump authorizes sanctions on election meddlers | Taliban set for new talks with US OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: House passes 5B defense bill MORE (R) and Elton Gallegly (R), who previously represented California’s 25th and 24th Districts, respectively. 

Garcia, a U.S. naval officer, was one of the first F/A-18E Super Hornet strike fighter pilots in the Navy and flew more than 30 combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to his campaign announcement.

-- Updated at 2:59 p.m.

Correction: Garcia is a candidate for the district. A previous version had incorrect information.