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Republican fighter pilot to challenge freshman Dem in key California race

Rep. Katie HillKatherine (Katie) Lauren HillMaher chides Democrats: We 'suck the fun out of everything' Former Obama official named NFL senior VP of communications Republicans fret over divisive candidates 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-CortezSimmering Democratic tensions show signs of boiling over Out-of-touch Democrats running scared of progressives Progressives rally behind Omar while accusing her critics of bias 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 KnightThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The American Investment Council - Pelosi touts T bill as Fauci stresses go-slow openings The Hill's Campaign Report: A Los Angeles House seat is in play for Republicans Democrats on edge over California special election nail-biter MORE.

Garcia touted the endorsements of former Reps. Buck McKeonHoward (Buck) Philip McKeonCivil rights activist Dolores Huerta endorses California Democratic House challenger Bottom Line Trump pick brings scrutiny to 'revolving door' between Pentagon, industry 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.