LA Daily News

25th Congress race: Smith apologizes after she’s accused of trivializing Garcia’s Navy service

The moment came Saturday during a livestream video spot for the organization Indivisible, which advocates for progressive policies.

Assemblywoman Christy Smith apologized for a comment made during a recent interview about her opponent Mike Garcia in the race for the 25th Congressional District seat in north Los Angeles County that critics say trivialized his military experience.

The moment came Saturday during a livestream video spot for the organization Indivisible, which advocates for progressive policies.

Smith, a Democratic lawmaker who represents the 38th State Assembly District, was speaking with supporters about Garcia’s time as a Navy fighter pilot. The discussion turned to a townhall virtual forum sponsored by the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce held the day before.

During the video forum, both candidates were seated in their respective offices, the walls behind them clearly visible. Smith said: “I texted my team, and I’m like, ‘OK, he’s got pictures of planes behind him. I’ve got constitutional law books’ — the irony … ”

Republicans accused Smith of mocking Garcia’s Navy experience.

On Wednesday, Smith took to Twitter to apologize. “Without question, I have the deepest respect and appreciation for Mike Garcia’s service to our country, and I am sorry for any comments that I made that might suggest otherwise,” she said, noting her own family’s “tradition” of military service.

Critics were not pleased with the apology.

“After denigrating Mike Garcia’s military service, it took FIVE DAYS for Christy Smith to apologize for anything she “might” have said that was offensive,” said Torunn Sinclair, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, in a statement. “What a heartfelt apology! Did she even give Mike Garcia – a combat veteran – the courtesy of a phone call? Or was posting on social media for her followers enough in her opinion.”

Others thanked Smith for apologizing, including one comment on Twitter that described it as taking “the high road.”

Meanwhile, the May 12 special election rapidly approaches, and mail-in ballots are already being returned.

The district includes more than 400,000 voters, from the northern tip of the San Fernando Valley to Simi Valley to the Antelope Valley.

The seat was left vacant by Katie Hill, when she resigned in October amid a scandal sparked by alleged and confirmed relationships with staffers.

What was considered a relative shoo-in for the Democrats has become a toss-up, and a highly watched race on the national scene, offering a taste of voter attitudes going into November’s general election. The May 12 special election will fill the seat until Hill’s term was to end in January. The two will run-off again in November for a fresh two-year term in Congress.

Both candidates have emphasized their years of experience handling money — Smith in elected roles from school board member to assemblywoman, and Garcia, as a business executive.

Last week, President Donald Trump endorsed Garcia,  tweeting praise for him for being “Strong on Crime, the Border, and Second Amendment.” That added to a list that includes mayors who lead a cluster of district cities.

Smith, who represents the overlapping 38th State Assembly district, trumpeted her support has come from such backers as L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and Reps. Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi, and from leaders from the area’s schools.

Smith has raised $1.89 million in total contributions as of the freshest Federal Election Commission update, ending March 31. And Garcia has raised $1.78 in contributions.

And both parties together have poured more than $2 million into a robust TV ad blitz in recent weeks.