LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Early returns indicate the race to fill California’s 25th Congressional district seat will likely go to a runoff election in May.

Democrat Christy Smith and Republican Mike Garcia are leading the polls to fill the seat formerly held by Katie Hill.

After Hill, a freshman Democrat, resigned last year amid a scandal and ethics probe, Republicans were vying to secure her seat while Democrats were hoping to keep hold of it. Candidates needed 50 percent plus one vote to take the seat tonight.

Democrat Christy Smith addresses supporters at Tuesday night election party. (credit: CBSLA)

Results as of two hours after the polls closed show Smith in the lead with about 30 percent of the votes. Garcia is coming in close second with 26 percent of the vote. Both are trying to beat out Republican Stephen Knight, who was the former incumbent and lost the seat to Hill in 2018. Knight currently has about 21 percent of the votes.

If the race goes to a runoff election, the special general election on May 12 will determine who will serve the remainder of Hill’s term, with the top two finishers from Tuesday’s election competing for the seat.

Smith has received endorsements from several high-profile Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi and Kamala Harris. She told the crowd at her election night party that she’s prepared to fight for the seat in a runoff.

“We know, based on tonight’s numbers, it is highly likely we will go to a May 12 runoff to defend this seat,” she said. “The eyes of the nation will turn to California’s 25th.”

At his election night gathering, Garcia said he will continue to run a grassroots campaign in hopes of turning the district red.

Republican Mike Garcia hopes to turn California’s 25th Congressional district red with this election. (credit: CBSLA)

“That’s been the magic ingredient here,” he said. “This is a true grassroots effort. People are recognizing that I’m a patriot, I’m not a politician.”

In addition to the special election, the same candidates are facing off in a regularly scheduled primary election for the same seat. The top two finishers will face off to take over the seat during the November 3 general election. Smith is also leading this election, per early returns.

The 25th district stretches from Santa Clarita to Simi Valley.

Click here for full Super Tuesday election results.

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