Republican candidate Michelle Steel has unseated Democratic incumbent Congressman Harley Rouda (D-CA) in the race for California’s 48th Congressional District, The Los Angeles Times reports.
As of Tuesday, Steel’s margin of victory was 2%, or 7,000 votes.
Steel will now serve as one of the first Korean American women in US Congress. Newly elected Democrat Marilyn Strickland of Washington is also Korean American.
The 65-year-old was born in Seoul, South Korea. She earned her BA in business at Pepperdine University and her MBA from the University of Southern California. She currently serves as the Republican chairwoman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. Her Congressional race victory has triggered an election for her Board of Supervisors seat, according to The Orange County Register.
Steel’s win is a major victory for the GOP. In 2018, the GOP lost several seats to Democrats in red-leaning errors. Now, the party has CA-48 back.
Rouda ran in 2018 as a Republican-turned-Democrat and was the first Democrat ever to represent California’s 48th Congressional District. He conceded Tuesday afternoon.
“I was proud to be the first Democrat ever to represent California’s 48th Congressional District,” Rouda said in a statement, according to The Los Angeles Times. “While one campaign ends today, another is just beginning. I look forward to having voters compare my opponent’s two years in Congress with my accomplishments on Nov. 8, 2022.”
The race between Steel and Rouda was heated until the very end. According to The Hill, COVID-19 mask policies became a focal point of the race. Steel successfully capitalized on the strong anti-mask sentiment in Orange County.
Steel has yet to make a statement about the race.
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