The current coronavirus pandemic has predictably affected the race for Congress, with the candidates stepping off the trail in favor of virtual town halls or performing their day jobs.
Republican Mike Garcia’s campaign put out a press release announcing a series of virtual town halls, first in Simi Valley and then later in Santa Clarita and the Antelope Valley.
“This can’t be about partisan politics,” Garcia said. “It’s about taking care of our people. It’s not Republican versus Democrat.”
Democrat Christy Smith is busy being the 38th Assembly District’s representative. On Monday, she joined her colleagues in voting to release $500 million in emergency funds stemming from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s state of emergency declaration on March 4. Then the Legislature voted to adjourn until at least April 13.
“In the coming weeks, I will work closely with our local partners to make sure these funds are properly targeted and disbursed, in addition to providing whatever service or resource assistance needed from the community,” Smith said in a statement. “I thank the Governor for his concise problem solving and collaboration with the Legislature. These are difficult times, but we will get through this together.”
Smith’s communications director, Danni Wang, said the district offices remain open, and anyone who feels negatively affected by this crisis, whether economically or healthily, is invited to contact the offices.
Wang also two bills Smith previously introduced could help: one that would help bring per-student funding to schools in the event of an epidemic and one that would exempt people from paying sales tax on certain emergency preparation items.
For Garcia, the current crisis hits home because he knows Carl Goldman, the general manager of radio station KHTS, who contracted the virus while on a Princess Cruises ship. Princess is headquartered in Santa Clarita and started a 60-day suspension of operations last week.
“It makes it personal, but it doesn’t change how we attack: Take all necessary steps, washing hands, avoiding contact,” Garcia said. “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
Garcia said he would like to meet with Princess officials and see how he (or the government) could help. But he acknowledged there would be a negative economic impact, a comment he made last week after the widespread closures of schools and cancellations of large-crowd events but before the extensive closures of businesses and before President Trump acknowledged that it could take until summer for the virus to come under control.
“This virus is not fully characterized. We don’t know if warmer temperatures will kill it,” he said. “We don’t know the transmission percentage, and the mortality rate is higher than other viruses. There are unknowns with this. It’s good to err on the side of safety.”
Garcia said Trump needs to listen to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and medical-health professionals. Smith’s campaign referred to a Harvard Business Review article that suggested the U.S. health care system is inherently incapable of handling this type of health crisis.
“In the midst of this public health care crisis, there are two contrasting visions provided by the candidates in this race,” Deputy Campaign Manager Kunal Atit wrote in an email. “Mike Garcia wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, leaving millions without health care, and cut programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Christy Smith will strengthen the ACA, fight for a public option, and protect Medicare and Medicaid. On May 12th, voters in CA-25 will choose between those two visions.”
Atit also took aim at former Rep. Steve Knight, who after failing to advance to either the special-election runoff or the November general election endorsed Garcia.
“It is not surprising that someone who voted to raise taxes on California families, and leave countless residents of CA-25 without healthcare, would endorse someone who wants to pursue the same destructive agenda,” he wrote.