California voters casting their ballots. Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

Republican Mike Garcia won a competitive special election on Wednesday against Democrat Christy Smith, a member of the State Assembly, for California's 25th Congressional District.

Why it matters: The seat was held by Republicans for over two decades before former Democratic Rep. Katie Hill flipped it in the 2018 midterms. But Hill resigned in her first term following allegations of improper relationships with her staff.

  • The seat will be up for grabs again this November. Both Garcia and Smith will meet, as they're both planning to compete for a full term.
  • Republicans are likely to use Wednesday's victory to argue that they can win back seats in 2020 that they've lost since the Trump presidency.

The state of play: Garcia held a 12-point lead over Smith as of Wednesday afternoon, with approximately 76% of precincts reporting, per the Washington Post. Some mail-in ballots remain outstanding, with absentee voting on the rise amid the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Garcia wrote in a statement Wednesday afternoon: "I'm ready to get to work right away for the citizens of the 25th Congressional District."
  • Smith wrote in her concession statement: "While it's critical that we ensure every vote is counted and recorded, we believe that the current tally shows Mike Garcia is the likely victor in the May 12 special election. As such, I'd like to congratulate him."

Go deeper

When and how to vote in all 50 states

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Data: RepresentUS; Note: Montana has told counties they can opt into universal vote-by-mail; Map: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Millions of Americans who normally vote in person on election day will turn to early voting or mail-in ballots this fall — but that only works if you understand your state's election rules, deadlines and how to ensure your vote is counted.

Driving the news: Axios is launching an interactive resource, built on research by RepresentUs, a nonpartisan election reform group, to help voters across the country to get the information they need.

What to expect from the final debate of the 2020 election

Trump and Biden at the first debate. Morry Gash-Pool/Getty Image

Watch for President Trump to address Joe Biden as “the big guy” or “the chairman” at tonight's debate as a way of dramatizing the Hunter Biden emails. Hunter's former business partner Tony Bobulinski is expected to be a Trump debate guest.

The big picture: Trump's advisers universally view the first debate as a catastrophe — evidenced by a sharp plunge in Trump’s public and (more convincingly for them) private polling immediately following the debate.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

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