HomeAsian AmericansNew Jersey's Andy Kim Joins the Blue Wave in Congress

New Jersey’s Andy Kim Joins the Blue Wave in Congress

Views From The Edge

After all the votes were counted in New Jersey’s District 3, Andy Kim has become the first Korean American to serve in Congress since 1999, reports NJ.com.

Kim was so sure of his victory that he declared himself winner over incumbent GOP Rep. Tom MacArthur the morning after the Nov. 6 midterm elections. However, the vote was so close that the final results could not be officially called until Wednesday (Nov. 14) over a week later.

MacArthur conceded later Wednesday. “Tonight, I called Congressman-Elect Andy Kim to congratulate him on his victory,” the two-term congressmember wrote in his statement. “Enough provisional ballots have been counted to make the outcome clear. My staff and I will work with him to ensure a smooth transition in every way.”

On the other side of the continent, the news was not so good for Republican Young Kim in California’s District 39. If Kim was elected, she would have become the first Korean American woman elected to Congress. That seems unlikely, as yesterday her election night lead was whittled down to only 122 votes over Democrat Gil Cisneros. Poll watchers predict Cisneros to take the lead. Live updates of the results are available from The New York Times.

The first Korean American in Congress was Republican Rep. Jay Kim representing parts of Orange County. He served several terms until 1999.

Andy Kim, 36, the first Asian American to represent New Jersey in Congress, has never run for elected office. He’s an alum of the Obama administration where he worked at the White House as a civilian advisor on the National Security Council.

Photo from Andy Kim’s campaign website.

Even though Kim was born in the U.S., some of MacArthur’s PACs tried to paint him as an “other.” A Republican Party super PAC sent out a flyer saying “He’s not one of us.”

One of the flyers sent in support of MacArthur featured a picture of fish heads (alluding to a racial slur against Asians) that said “there’s something fishy about Andy Kim.” In some versions, a font, known as “chop suey” was used.

“Some fish on a piece of paper is suddenly racist? What is racist about a picture of fish? Now we’re politicizing fonts? It’s not a racist font, it’s a font meant to stand out,” MacArthur said to editors of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Kim tried to steer away from the racial attacks to not antagonize the mostly White district and tried to stick to the issues.

Kim reminded voters that MacArthur drafted an amendment to the Senate attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, that allowed insurance to refuse coverage to pre-existing conditions. That version was voted down with the late Sen. John McCain’s dramatic thumbs down.

Andy Kim joins the so-called Blue Wave of Democrats gaining the majority of seats in the House of Representatives. The Democrats needed 23 districts to flip from Republican to Democrat. With Kim’s apparent win, the number of Red-to-Blue districts number 33 and there are a few more Democrat-leaning districts awaiting voting results.

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