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Republican Rep. Young Kim advances in OC congressional elections

U.S. Representative Young Kim fended off a last-minute challenge from a fellow Republican and will face Democrat Asif Mahmood in the fall election for the seat centered in inland Orange County.

Kim, a well-funded incumbent, appeared to be on track to earn a top-two spot in the primary and advance to the November general election to represent the 40th congressional district. But in the final weeks before the primary, Mission Viejo Councilman Greg Raths seemed to be gaining ground among conservatives.

The post-censal reshuffling of congressional districts meant that Kim faced many voters she had not previously represented. After the redistricting process triggered an incumbent reshuffle, Kim, 59, opted to run in the new 40th District. His La Habra home is just out of bounds. (Members of Congress are not required to live in their district.)

Raths, who had run for Congress three times without success, had served as mayor of Mission Viejo, the largest city in the new district. Kim and her allies have spent millions of dollars promoting her conservative credentials and attempting to portray Raths as a liberal.

Republicans have a nearly 5 percentage point voter registration advantage in the district. In Kim’s current district, 30% of eligible voters are Asian American and 29% Latino; the new district has fewer minority voters and is about 60% white, according to the nonpartisan California Target Book, which handicaps races.

Democrats have listed the 40th District as one of the races they plan to target in the fall. But their main turnaround hopes in the state are the districts currently represented by Reps. Mike Garcia, David Valadao and Michelle Steel. These districts became less favorable to the GOP after the maps were redraw. The Democratic Party must also protect members of Congress such as Representatives Katie Porter and Mike Levin, whose districts have become more competitive.

Those races are part of several competitive elections in the state that are expected to be vigorously contested by both parties in the fall. Republicans are expected to take control of at least one house of Congress in November. California’s congressional delegation, which will still be the largest in the country with 52 members despite losing a seat after the redistribution, will determine the power of the Republicans.

Los Angeles Times

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