Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and businessman John Briscoe are leading the race for the 42nd Congressional District, according to early returns.

Robert Garcia has claimed 45% of the vote while Briscoe has 29%. As for other candidates, Assemblymember Cristina Garcia has 13%, Peter Mathews has 4%, Nicole Lopez has 3%, William Summerville has 2%, Joaquin Beltran has 2% and Julio Flores also has 2%.

The votes counted so far include all of the vote by mail ballots received by county election officials before Election Day, as well as the in-person votes cast during the early voting period that began on May 29.

Garcia, speaking at his watch party on a Hotel Maya patio, said it was a “good night for our city and a good night for the country.”

If elected to Congress this fall, Garcia said he plans to tackle major issues including immigration, gun laws, reproductive rights and climate change.

Garcia, in an interview with the Post, said his first focus would be on the current threat to democracy.

“The single biggest issue right now in front of us is making sure that we actually have democracy in our county for the foreseeable future,” he said. “There’s extreme forces trying to destroy voting rights, trying to make sure people don’t have access to vote. These are things that we have to take on immediately.”

Even if he goes to Washington, Garcia said he’ll remain dedicated to helping Long Beach and surrounding cities in his district on issues such as air quality and infrastructure.

“Long Beach is my city, I’m not going anywhere,” he said. “I live here and I’m going to continue to make sure this city is well-represented and also make sure the other cities north of us have equal and good representation.”

Robert Garcia’s campaign raised about $1.04 million—which is more than the other six candidates in the race combined, according to OpenSecrets. The money came from a wide range of interests, including real estate ($80,800), law firms ($30,346) and construction ($25,980), according to OpenSecrets.

Long Beach’s mayor also benefitted from more than $2.3 million in spending from super PACs, of which $1.6 million was spent for him and the remaining $769,000 went towards negative ads and mailings against Cristina Garcia, according to OpenSecrets.

Briscoe, a real estate broker and Ocean View School District trustee, raised a little more than $252,000, virtually all of it from his own funds. Briscoe previously ran for Congress in 2018 and 2020 against Rep. Lowenthal, losing each time by nearly 30 percentage points.

The other candidates raised comparatively small sums of campaign funds. Summerville, a reverend,  brought in about $35,000, mostly from small donors, according to OpenSecrets. Beltran, an engineer and community organizer, raised just $14,000, while Mathews, a professor of American government, raised about $5,000, according to OpenSecrets. Campaign finance data for Lopez, who works for a non-profit organization, and Flores, an education administrator running as a Green candidate, is unavailable.

Widely seen as the choice of the political establishment, Robert Garcia lined up a huge array of endorsements from major political figures, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla, representatives Alan Lowenthal and Nanette Barragán, state Sen. Lena Gonzalez and seven Long Beach city councilmembers, including mayoral frontrunners Suzie Price and Rex Richardson.

Cristina Garcia countered by leaning heavily on hometown support and her liberal credentials, which include a long list of legislative victories in environmental cleanup, good government and gender equity. Her endorsements included a long list of Southeast L.A. County officials as well as famed political organizer Dolores Huerta.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon had endorsed Cristina Garcia back in January, but suddenly endorsed Robert Garcia on June 5 for unclear reasons.

Voter turnout in the district was just 11% going into Tuesday, according to the firm Political Data Intelligence.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include quotes from Robert Garcia, as well as vote totals as of Wednesday morning. 

Staff writer Kelly Puente contributed to this story.

Anthony Pignataro is an investigative reporter and editor for the Long Beach Post. He has close to three decades of experience in journalism leading numerous investigations and long-form journalism projects for the OC Weekly and other publications. He joined the Post in May 2021.