Former Virgin Galactic CEO Challenges Congressmember Garcia In Antelope Valley
George Whitesides, a one-time NASA chief of staff and former CEO of Virgin Galactic, announced Wednesday he is running to unseat U.S. Rep. Mike Garcia in California’s 27th Congressional District next year. The district includes Santa Clarita, Lancaster and Palmdale.
Whitesides is a Democrat. Garcia is a Republican who handily beat Democratic challenger Christy Smith by eight percentage points in 2022, helping the GOP gain control of the House of Representatives.
But the seat is widely considered to be one of the most competitive in the country. President Biden beat former President Trump in the district by more than 12 percentage points.
“Congress isn’t doing enough to help people in our part of California, and Congressman Garcia has become part of the problem,” Whitesides said in a statement. He criticized Garcia for voting to overturn the results of the 2020 election, and for his support of “taking away a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions.” Garcia co-sponsored a bill that would impose a national ban on abortion.
In response to Whitesides entering the race, Garcia told us in a statement that "I applaud anyone’s decision to try to step in the arena and serve the Nation. It’s a decision I made when I was 18 and will continue to do so as long as necessary to ensure our Nation’s prosperity and security.”
After serving on President Obama’s transition team in 2008, Whitesides was NASA chief of staff from 2009-2010.
He was CEO of Virgin Galactic from 2010-2020. Whitesides claims to have created more than 700 jobs in the Antelope Valley during his tenure.
After his time as CEO, he served as Virgin Galactic's Chief Space Officer and then as chair of its Space Advisory Board. He stepped down from that board prior to announcing his run for Congress, according to his campaign.
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Virgin Galactic, headquartered in Mojave, develops commercial spacecraft and is working to provide suborbital flights to space tourists.
Whitesides is chairman of the board of Megafire Action, an advocacy group that works to enact policies like prescribed burns to eliminate large wildfires.
He’s been endorsed by Christy Smith, the Democrat who unsuccessfully ran for the same seat three times.
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