In a special election held last week, Republican Mike Garcia claimed victory over Democratic Assemblymember Christy Smith in California’s 25th House District.
It was a blow to anyone who’d been encouraged to see the seat go blue in 2018 after decades in Republican hands, but it’s unlikely anyone took it quite as hard as Katie Hill, the former Freshman rep who vacated the seat late last year amid accusations she’d had an affair with a Congressional staffer.
On Sunday, after several days of silence, Hill tweeted, “So yeah it really hurt to have my old seat flip back to Republican—for a ton of people & also for me. In fact, it was pretty fucking devastating.”
So yeah it really hurt to have my old seat flip back to Republican-for a ton of people & also for me. In fact, it was pretty fucking devastating. I went offline & cried for a few days but, as always, getting ready to stand back up & keep fighting. Hope you are too.
— Katie Hill (@KatieHill4CA) May 17, 2020
Texas-born, Santa Clarita-raised Hill, who ousted Republican incumbent Steve Knight in the 2018 midterms, was emblematic of both the pink and blue waves that swept the country during that election cycle; she was also the first openly bisexual rep to be elected to the House. At 31, she joined fellow millennial lawmakers like Lauren Underwood from Illinois and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York among the ones to watch on the Hill, but her moment in the sun had a shorter shelf life than some of her fellow freshman Dems.
Last October, Hill resigned as the House Ethics Committee opened an investigation into the accusation that Hill had an affair with her legislative director, Graham Kelly, which she’s claimed stemmed from her estranged husband, Kenny Heslep, whom Hill also blamed for distributing nude photos of her to right-wing media outlets.
On Sunday, she linked the campaign to disgrace her and the outcome of last week’s election, saying, “My ex gave nonconsensual nude pics of me to the ppl who wanted this seat – people who were backing Garcia when he was my opponent. They gave those pics to the press. I resigned.”
Let’s be clear. My ex gave nonconsenual nude pics of me to the ppl who wanted this seat- people who were backing Garcia when he was my opponent. They gave those pics to the press. I resigned.
I take full responsibility for my mistakes, but this Republican win is no coincidence.
— Katie Hill (@KatieHill4CA) May 18, 2020
The news articles and photos that led to Hill’s resignation were published under the byline of Jennifer Van Laar, a Simi Valley political operative who’d previously worked for Hill’s Republican opponent Knight. Van Laar did not work for Garcia, although she’s been supportive of him on Twitter.
Garcia was elected to finish out Hill’s term, but he and Smith will go head to head again when voters go back to the polls in November.
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