Saturday, July 13, 2024

Republican Rep. Young Kim wins reelection in mostly Orange County district

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Republican Rep. Young Kim, who in 2020 was one of the first Korean American women to be elected to Congress, fended off a challenge from Democrat Dr. Asif Mahmood to secure a second term.

Democrats had listed the affluent, suburban, mostly Orange County district as a target for flipping, despite Republicans’ more than 4-percentage-point voter registration advantage. However, the campaigns largely flew under the radar in recent months, outshined by competitive races in other Orange County districts.

The Associated Press called the race in California’s 40th Congressional District on Thursday, though official results will take longer.

Kim thanked her volunteers and supporters Thursday evening.

“I look forward to continuing to break through the partisan gridlock, bring common sense to Washington and deliver results on behalf of all residents of CA-40, regardless of who you voted for,” she said in a statement. “There is much to do to get our country back on track, and I promise to never stop fighting to make life affordable, keep our communities safe and preserve the American dream for future generations.”

Kim’s messaging, which in previous campaigns focused on bipartisanship, moved further to the right this election cycle. The newly drawn district, which changed significantly in redistricting, is more conservative than her current one.

The Republican trumpeted her support for stricter border security, including former President Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, which forced asylum seekers who reached the U.S. border from Mexico to wait there for their cases to be processed. Through advertisements and interviews she’s attempted to draw parallels between border security and rising crime and drug issues.

Kim lives just outside the district, which covers some of the most conservative cities in the county, including Yorba Linda and Villa Park. It also encompasses portions of Corona in Riverside County and Chino Hills in San Bernardino County. She has not represented a majority of the voters in the newly drawn district, in which 60% of residents eligible to vote are white.

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Kim, who was born in South Korea, served in the state Assembly and unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2018 before winning two years later.

She broke with the majority of Republican members of Congress who objected to certifying the 2020 electoral votes from Pennsylvania. She voted against impeaching Trump and against forming a committee to investigate the Capitol insurrection.

Mahmood, a pulmonologist who was raised in rural Pakistan and has lived in Southern California since 1999, unsuccessfully ran for state insurance commissioner in 2018. He focused much of his campaign on reproductive rights, criticizing Kim in digital advertisements for her votes against protecting abortion access. Mahmood could not be reached for comment.

Times staff writer Seema Mehta contributed to this report.

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