If her lead holds up, Young Kim accomplished a few firsts last night. Former State Legislator Kim could become the first Korean American woman to ever be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and the first Korean American member of Congress since 1999. Appearing to beat her Democratic opponent Gil Cisneros in Fullerton near Los Angeles, Kim is also the first newcomer to 39th Congressional District in over two decades, which former Rep. Ed Royce held for 25 years.
100 percent of the precinct have reported, but an unknown number of provisional ballots still need to be counted and could change the results of this race.
Tuesday’s election featured one of the most diverse slate of candidates and a few firsts in the history of the United States. Michigan’s Democrat Rashida Tlaib and Minnesota’s Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party member Ilhan Omar were elected as the first Muslim women in Congress, and, at 29-years-old, Alexandria Cortez-Ocasio became the youngest woman to become a member of Congress.
Out of the thousands of women and color of candidates who ran in the 2018 midterm elections, most campaigned on Democratic tickets. According to the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (by way of the Norwalk Reflector), among the 6,066 state legislative races, only 275 candidates in those state races are nonwhite Republicans.
Kim is narrowly leading Cisneros by 3.2% even though the website FiveThirtyEight projected Cisneros with a 58.2% chance of winning this electoral district against Kim. The New York Times’ polls also showed that it would be a close race.
Therefore, it is rather distinctive and impressive that Kim could win on a Republican ticket in one of the nation’s toss-up electoral races.
The Los Angeles Times even wrote about how Kim’s background is unlike many who run as a Republican. She is an immigrant, an Asian American, and a woman. But she stood by her experience and evidence of her community involvement to drive her campaign. She spent decades as a congressional staffer to Royce and served one term in the Democratic-controlled state assembly. She even hosted a Korean talk show.
Kim’s probable win as a Republican pushes the expectations of what a Republican should look like and who can be one. Her decision to run and succeed as a candidate of the GOP demonstrates the ideological and political nuance not often associated to women and women of color.
When her Democratic opponent associated her with Donald Trump while campaigning in this congressional district that chose Hillary Clinton in 2016, Kim distanced herself from the politics of the president’s. She did not want her party to be represented by one man.
“There is no party of Trump,” she said in the Los Angeles Times. “…because I’ve been here, I’ve been working here, I’ve raised my family here, I know the district…. I’m not running for the party of Trump.”
While Trump dominates numerous political discussions relating to the GOP, Kim can now say she too represents the Republican party.
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