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Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia to run for retiring Lowenthal’s seat

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Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia built his profile in recent years as a prominent surrogate for Vice President Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign and then as an enthusiastic supporter of President Joe Biden. | Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP Photo

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia is jumping into the race to fill the seat Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) will give up at the end of 2022.

Garcia, a Democrat, moved quickly after Lowenthal announced his retirement on Thursday. He launched Friday morning with a campaign video that focuses on his mother, who immigrated to the country when Garcia was a small child and died last year of coronavirus. The video also highlights his assertive pandemic response.

Garcia is the first Latino and first openly gay mayor in Long Beach’s history. He has strong connections to California’s LGBTQ community, which could provide a pillar of support for his campaign. He also built his profile in recent years as a prominent surrogate for Vice President Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign and then as an enthusiastic supporter of President Joe Biden.

He has championed measures to contain the coronavirus, including requirements that teachers and city employees get vaccinated or show proof of negative tests — policies that Gov. Gavin Newsom subsequently ordered statewide.

But Garcia may not have the field to himself. Multiple Latina state lawmakers reacted to Lowenthal’s announcement by urging state Sen. Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) to jump into the race. Gonzalez did not respond to requests for comment about her plans.

The race is unlikely to change the basic math in the House. The opening district is safely Democratic, although its boundaries are set to shift as California’s independent redistricting commission prepares to release new maps in the coming days.

California is losing a House seat because of slow population growth. Los Angeles County’s population has shrunk, making it likely that the effects of one fewer seat are felt acutely in the Democratic stronghold. Proposed maps made it look likely that Lowenthal could be vying for a spot with Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.).

Redistricting is helping to drive a generational shift in California politics. Lowenthal is the fourth House incumbent from California this year to announce he will not be running for Congress in 2022. That list is widely expected to grow.

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