GOP keeps Wisconsin U.S. House seat, leads in California swing district special election

Peter Weber

Wisconsin state Sen. Tom Tiffany (R) won a U.S. House seat Tuesday in a special election to fill a vacancy left by former Rep. Sean Duffy (R). Tiffany beat Democrat Tricia Zunker by 14 percentage points in a district President Trump won by 20 points and Duffy took by 22 points in 2018. Tiffany's victory was widely expected, but the special election in California's 25 Congressional District was watched closely by both parties, and the Republican, former Navy pilot Mike Garcia, took a sizable early lead over Democratic state Assemblywoman Christy Smith.

Democrat Katie Hill won the suburban Los Angeles seat by 9 points in 2018, flipping it from GOP control for the first time in 25 years, before resigning after acknowledging an inappropriate sexual relationship with a staff member. With 142,000 votes counted early Wednesday, Garcia leads Smith by 12 points, 56 percent to 44 percent. The election was conducted mostly by mail, but Republicans appeared to have both turned in more ballots and showed up in greater numbers to the seven polling places, Jennifer Medina reports at The New York Times.

Votes postmarked Tuesday will be accepted until Friday, and it's not clear how many of the roughly 425,000 mail-in ballots were returned. Garcia said Tuesday night that the race is "looking extremely good," but he wouldn't "give a victory speech tonight." Smith said every vote should be counted.

If Garcia wins, as he looks likely to do. it will be the first time California's embattled Republican Party took a seat away from the Democrats since 1998. Democrats, bracing for the loss, said they expect Smith to win in November, when the electorate is more favorable to the party. For example, tracking data cited by the Times shows that 56 percent of voters 65 and older returned mail-in ballots versus 19 percent of voters younger than 35, while 40 percent of white voters and only 21 percent of Latino voters mailed back their ballots.

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