In the closing weeks of his campaign, President Trump has tried to persuade white suburban women, a demographic he won by 52% in the 2016 election, to vote for him again.
But those efforts have fallen short nationwide and in the surrounding suburbs of Los Angeles, where many white suburban women are voting to flip both the presidency and the 25th Congressional district back to blue.
“I’ve lived in Santa Clarita for over 30 years, and one of the major changes that’s happened is, it’s become a lot more diverse,” local school district administrator and Democrat Juliana Sheldon said. “We were that red dot [in Los Angeles] for the longest time, so it would be great to have somebody with a strong voice and point of view, representing our district.”
The somebody Sheldon is referring to is Christy Smith—who’s running against incumbent Mike Garcia to represent California’s 25th district in the House. Smith, a Santa Clarita native, served nine years on the Newhall School Board before flipping a GOP seat in 2018 to represent the 38th state assembly district.
“The unique opportunity that I have here is because I’ve been an elected official in this community already for 11 years with a track record of service,” Smith said in an interview. “It’s very easy for me to tie what I have already done to what the needs of the community are as proof of concept that I get the job done.”
This is the second time Smith and Garcia are facing off. In May, Garcia won a special election to replace Democrat Katie Hill, who resigned following a nude photo scandal and allegations of inappropriate relationships in the workplace. Though it is historically red, California’s 25th district has recently become one of the few “purple” districts in Los Angeles. Thirty-nine percent of registered voters in the district are Democrats, with Republicans following closely behind at 31%. The third largest share of voters, 22%, are independent voters.
Now, Garcia is trying to hold on to a seat he previously won by less than 10% of the vote. a race that Inside Elections, a non-partisan campaign analysis site, currently rates as a toss-up.
“Mike Garcia is one of the Republican Party’s best recruits nationwide,” said Inside Elections’ analyst Jacob Rubashkin. “His military background, he is the son of a Mexican immigrant. He was not a politician, so he had no voting record to pick over. He really was a good candidate for this race.”
Garcia’s American dream-come-true story is likely to resonate with the 40% of the district that is Hispanic. In addition to his heritage, Garcia has made his former job as an executive at Raytheon central to his campaign, promising to support the industry if elected. Palmdale, one of the cities in the 25th district, is home to several aerospace companies that are among the district’s top employers.
Santa Clarita resident Rebecca Hindman’s husband used to work for Raytheon and is still employed in the defense industry. Despite this, she is one of the white suburban women backing Smith. Hindman, who has a son with special needs, says Smith’s open support for individuals with disabilities is more important to her than any additional funding Garcia may bring to her husband’s company.
Hindman is also thinking about last November’s shooting at Saugus High School, in which two students were killed. Hindman’s daughter, a student at the school, hid only five feet away from the shooter and managed to get out unharmed.
“[Garcia’s] a Saugus alum. That’s his high school, and he didn’t even show up,” Hindman said. “Christy was there every day, like constantly there, and she has a gun reform platform that I can support.”
Smith has been endorsed by Santa Clarita’s local Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America chapter. Karen Daniels, an elementary school teacher and mom, is one of their 500 volunteers and active supporters in the district.
“I support her because she’s our common sense gun law candidate,” Daniels, who’s experienced a series of lockdowns at school, says. “Aside from that, I support her because she represents what is decent and good in our community where there has been so much of the opposite.”
Smith is well-aware of the push from suburban women, like herself, to get her elected this November—especially since the 25th district doesn’t quite mirror President Trump’s outdated vision of suburbia.
“We have this vast diversity reflected here in California’s 25th, with a very high number of minority women, of Latino women, African American women, a very diverse cross section of the AAPI [Asian American and Pacific Islander] community,” Smith says. “I do think women in this district have been highly motivated and very compelled because they have seen not only a focus and a feature on the issues that matter most to them and their families, but also a decided anti-woman sentiment out of this White House.”
It’s that exact sentiment that motivated Hindman to get involved with local politics in the first place and raise her voice for kids like hers who suffer from last year’s traumatic event and a lack of funding for public education.
Although Smith’s candidacy depends on the support of the suburban women turning away from Trump, Hindman has also seen a huge push for young voters to make the change they want to see in this election.
“If I’m going to be saying, ‘Hey, you need to go out and fight.’ Guess what? I’m gonna be standing right by you,” says Hindman. “And that’s what Christy does. She stands by them and understands where we’re coming from, because she is a mom.”