House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy trotted out the two newest members of his conference — fresh off special election wins last week — in what he took as a promising harbinger that his party will retake the chamber after voters cast their ballots in November.
McCarthy stood outside the Capitol on Tuesday, flanked by the new members: fellow California Republican Mike Garcia and Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin, who were sworn in earlier in the morning by Speaker Nancy Pelosi during a pro forma session.
“Both of them have a good indication of what November is going to be like,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy led off by praising Garcia, who flipped California’s 25th District. The suburban Los Angeles seat had been vacant for months after Democratic freshman Katie Hill resigned amid a sex scandal and ethics probe.
“If you look, in California, we have not flipped a Democrat seat in more than 22 years,” the minority leader said said. “Since 1998.”
Garcia, a retired Navy pilot who served in Iraq, beat Democrat Christy Smith last week. Prior to his election, Garcia was an executive at Raytheon.
“I look forward to working and unifying this nation as we work through the crisis. Not only the COVID crisis, but the national security crisis that China represents against our nation,” Garcia said.
Tiffany won a special election in Wisconsin’s 7th district to succeed Republican Sean P. Duffy, who resigned in September.
“We are going to get America back up on our feet again,” he said.
McCarthy noted that past special elections have previewed the political tides in November. He cited the win by former Hawaii Rep. Charles K. Djou, a Republican who flipped an open seat in May 2010 in a three-way race that featured two Democrats. The Republicans retook the majority that November in convincing fashion. But Djou lost his 2010 bid in the general election to Democrat Colleen Hanabusa, whom he had beaten in the special election. He and ended up serving a little over seven months in total.
McCarthy also mentioned Rep. Conor Lamb’s win in a 2018 special election in which the Pennsylvania Democrat flipped an open Republican seat. Democrats went on to win big that November. (Lamb was aided in his reelection bid by a new map that redrew district lines, allowing him to run for a seat that was more Democratic than the seat he won in the special election.)
“Early indications in these races show what will happen in November,” McCarthy said, adding, “Seventeen seats to win the majority.”
Bridget Bowman and Stephanie Akin contributed to this report.