Republican leads in California House special election to replace Katie Hill

(Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Republican Mike Garcia, a former Navy pilot and first-time candidate, is leading Democratic Assemblywoman Christy Smith in a closely-watched race to fill the seat vacated in November by former Democratic Rep. Katie Hill.

Garcia took 56% to Smith’s 44% early Wednesday morning. The 25th District, including large swaths of northern Los Angeles County and eastern Ventura County, has been dominated by mail-in voting amid the coronavirus pandemic. There is an unknown number of mail ballots left to count.

The winner will be in Congress for the final seven months of Hill’s term, which ends Jan. 3, 2021. In November, Garcia and Smith will face each other again in a race for a full two-year term.