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Rep. Katie Hill's Constituents React To Her Resignation Announcement


When Democratic congresswoman Katie Hill resigned on Sunday, she left an open seat and a lot of questions for constituents of the 25th District of California. Libby Denkmann from member station KPCC visited Hill's district and has this story on how voters are reacting.

LIBBY DENKMANN, BYLINE: Chad Kampbell, an activist with a Santa Clarita Democratic club, walks me through a neighborhood festooned with spooky decorations.

CHAD KAMPBELL: There's actually Halloween lights. Like, people put up, like, orange lights. And it looks like Christmas but in Halloween theme.

DENKMANN: The 25th District includes suburban and rural areas. The Reagan Presidential Library is in neighboring Simi Valley. The Antelope Valley to the east is the gateway to the Mojave Desert. In recent years, many more Angelenos, like Kampbell, are moving here to escape high housing prices in the city. And as more move in, the population is getting younger and more diverse. That, along with a huge volunteer operation and massive outside spending by Democratic organizations, helped nonprofit executive Katie Hill flip one of the last Republican strongholds in Los Angeles County in 2018.

KAMPBELL: It was really something amazing to be a part of. This is the first time I think I've ever seen a movement like this.

DENKMANN: Hill's career seemed on a fast track. Once she got to Congress, she was elected to represent the freshman class in leadership. She became a vice chair of the Oversight Committee. But just under a year after her election, Hill resigned, facing a House ethics investigation into allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a congressional staffer.

We tried to talk to Hill for this story, but we were told she isn't doing interviews yet. She has acknowledged dating a campaign aide. She's also been targeted with intimate photos published online without her consent. She called it a smear campaign enabled by her husband, whom she is divorcing. Now supporters are mourning her rapid fall.

KAMPBELL: We were devastated. When word of the resignation came down, there was definitely that emotional bottoming out that we all kind of felt.

DENKMANN: And for political organizers like Kampbell, Hill's exit flipped over the Monopoly board. Now California's governor is expected to call a special election to fill the vacancy.

KAMPBELL: We were hoping for incumbency this time and some of the benefits that that brings.

DENKMANN: Hungry candidates are circling. A local assemblywoman who campaigned with Hill last year, Christy Smith, has declared her intention to run. Six Republicans have filed paperwork, including, just this week, George Papadopoulos, a former campaign adviser for President Trump who spent time in prison for lying to the FBI. And a familiar face may be back. Former Congressman Steve Knight, who lost to Katie Hill by nine points last year, says he's looking into another run.

STEVE KNIGHT: These are unchartered waters for our district, no doubt. And it's a very fast, tight election that we're looking at in the next six, eight months.

DENKMANN: Uncharted waters, Knight calls the events of the past 10 days. The whole episode has been confusing and messy. And some worry it will only deepen the partisan divide in this community. But even some constituents who don't agree with Hill's politics, they don't like the way she was forced to resign.

: You know, Katie Hill made some bad choices.

DENKMANN: I met Stacy Hamblin, a registered Republican, outside the Santa Clarita library. Hamblin moved here last summer. She thinks Hill campaigned as a centrist but in office moved far left on issues like health care and impeaching President Trump. But the cyber harassment she's faced and a bitter public divorce is relatable to this conservative voter.

STACEY HAMBLIN: Usually it's women who are targeted with the revenge porn. The photographic evidence of your personal moments are, like, the most hurtful way you could ever, you know, attack someone.

DENKMANN: Hill is pursuing legal options. And she says she'll devote her time after Congress to combating revenge porn.

For NPR News, I'm Libby Denkmann in Los Angeles.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Libby Denkmann is KPCC's veterans and military reporter. She focuses on stories about active duty service members, veterans, and their families in Southern California.
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