Gay Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia announced that he would be running for an open seat for the U.S. House.
Garcia made the announcement via Twitter stating: “Hey everyone, I’m running for Congress. My mom brought me to this country when I was 5. She risked everything so that I could succeed. Every single kid deserves the same shot that this country has given me.”
Garcia, who lost both his mother and stepfather to COVID-19, made his announcement one day after veteran Long Beach Democratic Rep. Alan Lowenthal said he will not seek reelection.
Garcia celebrated his 44th birthday on December 2 and is an openly gay Latino originally from Peru. First elected to the city council in April 2009 to much fanfare as the council’s youngest, first Latino male, and first gay person of color. He became Long Beach’s first gay mayor in 2014 with 52.1% of the vote.
Garcia is married to political science professor Matthew Mendez Garcia and if he is elected to fill the seat in the U.S. House, he would be the first openly LGBTQ+ immigrant and the second openly LGBTQ+ Latino elected to Congress — and the first LGBTQ+ Latino elected to Congress from California.
Currently, Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus Chair and U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, (D-RI), is the only out LGBTQ former mayor ever elected to the U.S. Congress. U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres, (D-NY), is the only out LGBTQ Latinx person ever elected to the body.
Garcia’s statewide and national profile rose during the COVID-19 pandemic with Long Beach being called a “model for vaccine rollout” in California by the New York Times.
Long Beach was the first city in California to vaccinate educators, which led to Long Beach Unified reopening schools before most other districts in the state. Long Beach was also the first city in California to vaccinate 99% of its senior population.
Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, was the first group to endorse Garcia for Congress.
“Mayor Garcia has shown throughout his nearly 13 years in elected office that he has the skill, tenacity and compassion to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people and the diverse communities to which we belong,” Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang said in a statement. “From creating one of the country’s most comprehensive responses to the COVID-19 pandemic to establishing transgender-inclusive healthcare coverage in the City of Long Beach, he has been there for our LGBTQ+ community and for all Californians. We need a leader like him in Congress, and we’re prepared to do everything in our power to ensure he is elected in 2022.”
The primary election will be June 7 and the top two finishers will advance to the general election on Nov. 8.