The Hill’s Campaign Report: A Los Angeles House seat is in play for Republicans

Welcome to The Hill’s Campaign Report, your daily rundown on all the latest news in the 2020 presidential, Senate and House races. Did someone forward this to you? Click here to subscribe.

We’re Julia Manchester, Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley. Here’s what we’re watching today on the campaign trail. 



Less than two years after Democrats recaptured a majority in the House by flipping dozens of GOP-held seats in the nation’s suburbs and exurbs, Republicans may be about to take one back. 

The special election between Democratic state Assemblywoman Christy Smith and Republican Mike Garcia in California’s 25th congressional district on Tuesday is more competitive than Democrats had hoped it would be. Public polling in the race has been scarce, but Democrats acknowledge that the election is likely to be a nailbiter, and election handicappers have labeled the contest as a tossup.

If Garcia scores a victory on Tuesday, it would mark the first time since 1998 that a Republican has flipped a Democratic-held House seat in California.

Part of the problem for Democrats stems from the very reason the special election is being held: the controversy surrounding former Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.), who resigned the seat last fall amid a House ethics investigation into an inappropriate relationship between her and one of her staffers.

Hill’s tenure in Congress was short. She ousted former Rep. Steve Knight (R-Calif.) from the Southern California district in 2018, taking it out of Republican hands for the first time in more than 20 years and adding to the series of stinging losses felt by the state GOP that year.

Garcia has pointed to the controversy surrounding Hill over the course of his campaign. But he’s seized more prominently on Democrats’ larger hold on political power in California, blaming “socialist” policies and strict regulation for the state’s problems. The fact that Smith serves in the state assembly has only provided fodder for his campaign. 

Smith’s campaign, meanwhile, has sought to make the special election a referendum on Trump, particularly his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. She’s tied Garcia closely to the president in an effort to ignite the anti-Trump sentiment that gave Hillary Clinton a roughly 7-point victory in California’s 25th District in 2016.

The election is being conducted almost entirely by mail due to the pandemic, and ballots only need to be postmarked by Tuesday and received by election officials by Friday to be counted. That likely means that it will take at least a few days for a winner to be declared.

As of last Friday, early ballot returns showed that election officials had received more ballots from registered Republicans than from Democrats. That may change on Tuesday. One Democratic operative involved in the race noted this week that Democratic votes tend to come in later than Republican votes, and there are still a few in-person voting sites in use.

Regardless of who wins, their tenure in the House is guaranteed only for a few months. The special election will determine who serves out the rest of Hill’s term, and Smith and Garcia are expected to face off for the seat once again in the November general election. Democrats believe that’s good news for them, because it means that, even if Smith loses on Tuesday, they’ll get another shot at the seat in a few months when voter turnout is expected to be higher and Trump himself will be at the top of the ballot.

–Max Greenwood


Democrats on edge over California special election nail-biter, by Max.



The Democratic National Committee (DNC) on Tuesday took the first step toward scaling back the nominating convention or taking aspects of it online due to ongoing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. The DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee passed a resolution granting new power to the party’s convention planning committee to “make the necessary changes to the format, size, date or other aspects in order to conduct a safe convention.” Jonathan Easley reports.

Trump is trailing Biden among voters who view both men unfavorably, a substantial and growing segment of the population that could decide which man takes the oath of office next January. The Hill’s Reid Wilson reports.

Stacey Abrams, the 2018 Democratic nominee for Georgia governor, endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential bid on Tuesday, The Hill’s Zack Budryk reports. “While marginalized communities struggle under Donald Trump’s failed leadership and people of color face disproportionate consequences of COVID-19, Joe Biden will take no one for granted,” Abrams said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing my strong support for his candidacy and doing all I can to make sure he is elected this November.” Abrams has been floated as a potential running mate for Biden.


Biden’s campaign and the DNC raised a combined $60.5 million in April, Max reports, a total that suggests that the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic are still rippling through political giving.

President Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee (RNC) brought in $61.7 million in April, Jonathan reports, down only slightly from the $63 million they raised in March.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) raised $11.3 million in April, Max reports. The fundraising haul gives the group its best April on record. Roughly $7 million of the haul came from grassroots donations, the DCCC said.

Everytown for Gun Safety announced on Tuesday it was pouring at least $5 million into supporting Democrats running up and down the ballot in Arizona in November. The Hill’s Julia Manchester reports that the haul is a part of the group’s $60 million national investment in this election cycle. 



Biden: 45 percent

Trump: 42 percent



Biden: 46 percent

Trump: 43 percent



Biden: 59 percent

Trump: 29 percent



Trump: 46 percent

Biden: 43 percent



Trump: 47 percent

Biden: 41 percent



(Keep in mind these dates could change because of the outbreak.)

May 12:

Nebraska primaries


May 19:

Oregon primaries


May 22:

Hawaii Democratic primary


June 2:

Delaware primaries

District of Columbia primaries

Indiana primaries

Maryland primaries

Montana primaries

New Mexico primaries

Pennsylvania primaries

Rhode Island primaries

South Dakota primaries


June 9:

Georgia primaries

West Virginia primaries


June 23:

Kentucky primaries


July 7:

New Jersey primaries


July 11:



July 14:

Alabama Republican Senate primary runoff


August 11:

Connecticut primary


August 17-20:

Democratic National Convention


August 24-27:

Republican National Convention


One hopeful thing 

Julia Manchester spoke with Alabama Democratic congressional candidate Kiani Gardner on Tuesday about her experience donating her kidney last month in the middle of congressional campaign and the coronavirus pandemic. 

“It wasn’t the plan,” Gardner said in the interview. “They had soft-scheduled the surgery like four times, so I started this well before the congressional campaign, but then something would fall through or for some reason it didn’t happen, and so I was expecting it not to happen anytime soon.” 

Gardner said she got the call confirming the surgery for April 30 about two weeks before the date last month. 

She donated her kidney to Alabama resident Tyson Bell, who had been on the donor list for roughly two-and-a-half years. Bell has been living with polycystic kidney disease for multiple years. 

“I get an opportunity because of the new kidney. I get an opportunity to raise my children; I have got a four-year-old and a nine-year-old. I have potentially an opportunity to have grandkids and see them and interact with them, so this is a new lease on life for me, “ Bell told NBC 15 in Mobile, Ala.

You can read more of the interview here.

We’ll see you tomorrow for the latest campaign news and updates!

Tags 2020 elections California 25th District Campaign Report Christy Smith Coronavirus Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Joe Biden Katie Hill Mike Garcia Special Election Steve Knight

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