Dear Representative Garcia,
Congratulations on being sworn in as an official member of Congress this week! Even if it is only to finish the last 5 months of your predecessor’s term, you have a very important function in CA-25. Carrying the crushing weight of the hopes and dreams of the California GOP would give even the mighty Atlas a hernia and torn rotator cuff. However, you seem to be up for the challenge and the bonus is that the United States Navy and the Raytheon Corporation have already vetted you six ways to Sunday, which saves the taxpayers of District 25 some money on your upcoming security clearances. Since CA Republicans describe themselves as arbiters of fiscal and moral responsibility, you’re off to a fantastic start so far.
Your recent victory in the special election was not a shock to me. There was something about you in particular that made me go “He’s the one to watch out for” even as far back as 2018. I didn’t think they even made charismatic Republicans anymore, and I’m from the two places in Southern California where they still churn out GOP candidates in factories. Even the Democratic consultants I know will grudgingly admit that you’re a formidable opponent. If the Beltway insiders don’t chew you up and spit you out and you can hold the District 25 fort down through the summer and early autumn , you’ve been given a phenomenal opportunity to redefine the brand of California conservative and revitalize a Republican Party that lost both their focus and their political bargaining power over the course of the past decade.
Stay focused on your district
Focus is a truly underrated trait in politics. Over the past 18 months, even your detractors admired your laser focus on winning a Congressional race where your own party didn’t expect you to last through the primary. Which seemed awfully myopic: if you can focus well enough to land a multimillion-dollar supersonic jet on an aircraft carrier at night, you can definitely stay focused on the interests of your constituents when you’re in D.C. The folks back home are not shy about voicing their concerns about the government, and the quickest way to allay their concerns is by staying engaged with as many of your constituents as you and your staff can manage. Voters in your district aren’t historically straight party-line voters. Even if they’re a Democrat, No Party Preference, or vote third party, if you’re willing to listen to their ideas and make sure they know in no uncertain terms that you’re fighting for all of the citizens who live in CA-25, not just the ones who vote Republican. D.C. and the dazzle of national GOP political stardom are heady experiences, but District 25 needs you more than the NRCC does, especially now.
California History: Learning The Right Lessons, Avoiding The Wrong Mistakes
The Golden State does not do politics like the rest of the U.S. They never have, and never will. If you’re not the beneficiary of the nepotism that comes with dynastic politics, a member of the minority party, or from Southern California, you’re already halfway to winning a Political Darwin Award. Don’t fall into the trap that countless conservative newcomers from LA County get caught in. Learn from the CA politicians who actually did their job well enough to transcend party loyalty. Buck McKeon, Richard Riordan, Howard Jarvis and former President Ronald Reagan are absolutely worth studying for the right way to navigate the shark infested and deep blue political waters. Richard Nixon, Steve Knight, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bob Dornan, Duncan Hunter, Gary Condit, and your immediate predecessor, Katie Hill, are cautionary tales of the damage that D.C. can do to Californians, and their mistakes are definitely worth learning from.
Alliances Come And Go, But A Worthy Adversary Is Forever
Former President Warren G. Harding once said “It’s not my enemies in life that I have to worry about, it’s my goddamn friends!”. Political alliances aren’t actually friendships, they’re closer to an exercise in strategic and genteel social blackmail. Lobbyists will consider you a new mark, and the friendlier they are, the more you will inevitably have to itemize on your FEC reports. As much as you support the President, that feeling may not be reciprocated 100% of the time, and that’s how the government is supposed to work. Checks and balances are part of what made America great in the first place!
Right now, you’ve got to introduce yourself to the new adversaries in your workplace. Our Speaker of The House, Nancy Pelosi, will probably outlast Clorox bottles and the cockroach on Capitol Hill, so the more you get to know her, the better a politician you will become. Also, you have something in common with Madam Speaker: she first arrived in Congress via a surprise special election too. Her heart got stomped on by your predecessor, the Squad openly defies her, and she needs a new Republican villain to keep her skills sharp. Also, you may write a bill someday that will need her clout to get a 2/3 majority in the House. She won’t necessarily like you and she will make no secret of that, but if you keep your head down, show up for votes, and argue your points well, she will respect you and you’ll get a reputation as a legislator with the power to reach across the aisle.
Remember, this is California, and the Democrats have a four point registration advantage at their disposal. Gridlock and doubling down on petty crap will get you voted out of office a lot faster than selective compromises behind closed doors will. Just make sure you leverage that as strategically as you can. One of the things that has killed the CA GOP over time is their insane habit of rolling over and playing dead after the Democrats get what they want. Don’t be afraid to push back during negotiations. The best way to tell if the legislative session was truly fair? When neither side is happy with what got passed.
The 4 Elements of Political Harmony: God, Country, Party…and Don’t Forget Family!
You have been blessed with a wonderful family who understands that it’s your duty and your calling to serve your country. Show them how much you appreciate their love, understanding, and sense of humor about the inevitable changes in plans. It’s refreshing to witness a politician who understands how important their spouse is when it comes to their success not just in their career, but in life. Resist any temptation to make your wife upset. Send her flowers for no good reason. (That’s the best kind of reason!)
There will be many nights in the future where you will be trapped in a drafty haunted building with ugly carpet while getting filibustered by your fellow Congressmen and Congresswomen and any time you make a mistake on the job or your bill dies in committee, it’s on the six o’clock news. The more supportive your family unit is, the better you will be able to shrug those unpleasant moments off. And if you can make it to Career Day at the school your kids attend, not only do you look cool, you might just get a new generation of kids interested in civics.
Thanks to how well you conducted yourself on the campaign trail, you proved that you were truly the candidate to pay attention to, and you deserved your win. You’ve done Saugus High School proud, and that’s hard to admit for a girl who went to Hart. I was the first person in the U.S. to predict that you would be the ultimate victor in the CA-25 special, and defending my prediction on your behalf has been one hell of a ride on Election Twitter, both good and bad. Had you lost, my reputation on Election Twitter would be in the Sunshine Canyon landfill. I will be eternally grateful that your bold idea to challenge the local GOP cabal back in 2018 gave me something worthy of writing about. So please stick around for November. Your constituents need quality federal representation, and The CA25 Diaries needs another chapter. Wishing you the best of luck, Congressman-during these uncertain times, you’ll need some.
Genya Coulter, Former CA-25 Voter, Election Professional, and Columnist for Elections Daily