Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, announced she will run for the 42nd Congressional seat. Photo by CalMatters.

The race for the newly-created 42nd Congressional seat just got more competitive: Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, said Thursday she will run for the seat against Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, who announced his campaign last week.

The assemblywoman, who has served in the California Legislature since 2012, said in a statement she will focus her campaign on issues of environmental justice, good governance and women and children’s advocacy.

And, perhaps referencing Robert Garcia’s already long list of endorsements from politicians around the state, the assemblywoman said she is “proud to have never been a candidate that covets the endorsement of the political elite.

“I am more interested in holding them accountable to the people.”

Cristina Garcia, who represents the 58th District in the Assembly, released her own list of endorsements, including several elected leaders  in Downey, Bell, Bell Gardens, Cudahy, Maywood, Vernon, Huntington Park, Cerritos and Montebello—many areas she currently represents.

The Hill reported that Cristina Garcia, leader of the California Assembly Woman’s Caucus, plans to run to the left of Robert Garcia, who was once a Republican.

The assemblywoman, however, will also have to contend with some political baggage: An investigation in 2018 found she had violated the Assembly’s sexual harassment policy by “commonly and pervasively” using vulgar language in talking to her staff, and that she had employees perform personal tasks and disparaged elected officials, CalMatters reported.

Though she was cleared of more serious charges, Speaker Anthony Rendon removed her from committee assignments and required her to attend sensitivity training, but reassigned her to committees in the 2019-2020 legislative session.

But the newly-drawn 42nd Congressional district may benefit Cristina Garcia, as it now includes much of her Assembly district.

The new proposed Long Beach congressional district (left) compared to the current 47th Congressional District (right).

The new district is far more Latino, extending north to include several southeast Los Angeles cities instead of east to Orange County.

The Latino voting-age population is more than 52% in the new district, up from 29% from the district’s old configuration.

Two current congressional representatives, Rep. Alan Lowenthal and Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, both Democrats, were drawn into the 42nd District. Both later said they would retire from Congress, clearing the path for new candidates.

If elected, Cristina Garcia, who represents much of Roybal-Allard’s old district, would replace the first Mexican-American woman elected to Congress.

Robert Garcia had been considered a favorite for the seat, but the assemblywoman’s entrance into the race will make it far more competitive. There are also two Republicans and one other Democrat in the race, though none have significant name recognition.