Republican Steve Knight, a former Los Angeles police officer who served two terms in the House before being defeated by Democrat Katie Hill, said Sunday he will try to win back his old seat after Hill abruptly announced her resignation last month.
Hill, an up-and-coming freshman lawmaker who was elected to Democratic House leadership, was forced to step down amid allegations of affairs with a campaign aide, which she confirmed, and a House staffer, which she denied. She also feared the continued nonconsensual release of intimate photos, which she blamed on her estranged husband and a culture of “revenge porn.”
Republicans hope Hill’s departure could open the door to winning back the north Los Angeles County congressional district, which had been in GOP hands for decades. But the area, like many others in California, has shifted to the left.
In a statement on his website Sunday, Knight said, “I have always answered the call to serve and today is no exception. I am proud to announce my run to return to Congress.”
Knight joins a crowded Republican field that includes Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sgt. Mark Cripe, former Navy pilot Mike Garcia and Lancaster City Councilwoman Angela Underwood Jacobs. Also in the race is George Papadopoulos, a former campaign aide to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Papadopoulos, 32, pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to federal agents in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and spent two weeks in jail.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has until two weeks from Hill’s formal resignation date of Nov. 1 to call a special election, which must be scheduled more than four months in the future. The primary has to be held first; any candidate who garners more than 50% in the primary would win the seat.
Otherwise, the top two vote getters would face off in the special election. The winner would have to compete for the seat again in November 2020.
Hill won the seat by nine points when she ran against Knight, and her victory reflected the changing demographics in the district, which is made up of Simi Valley, Santa Clarita, Palmdale and part of Lancaster.
It was a longtime Republican stronghold that formerly skewed heavily to white voters, many of them working in law enforcement, the aerospace industry or the military. But in recent years, new arrivals have included Latinos, Asian Americans and others seeking more affordable housing than can be found closer to central Los Angeles.