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US midterm elections 2018

Korean-American Young Kim narrowly misses historic election to US Congress

  • Kim largely avoided mentioning her party’s leader, US President Donald Trump, during her campaign
  • Orange County goes blue, as Democrats complete historic sweep
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 November, 2018, 12:25pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 November, 2018, 12:25pm

Eleven days after Americans cast their ballots in the midterm elections, Republican candidate Young Kim – aiming to become the first Korean-American woman elected to Congress – was defeated in a tight Southern California race for the US House of Representatives.

Although she took the lead on election day, mail-in ballots counted in the weeks following favoured Kim’s Democratic opponent Gil Cisneros in California’s 39th district, which includes portions of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties.

Cisneros, 47, a US$266 million lottery jackpot winner, had been locked in a close race with Kim in a district that has grown increasingly diverse.

It’s about equally divided between Republicans, Democrats and independents, as it is with Asians, Hispanics and whites.

Home to former Republican President Richard Nixon, the district voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, but has only elected one Democratic US representative since its inception in 1973.

Neighbouring districts in Orange County, which is 21 per cent Asian-American, saw similarly close races between Democratic and Republican candidates. Democrats unseated Republican incumbents in two neighbouring districts.

Democrats achieved a majority in the House of Representatives in the midterm elections. A record number of women will serve in the 116th US Congress, which maintains a Republican Senate, and will begin its session on January 3, 2019.

History in the mailing? Southern California congressional race featuring Korean-American Young Kim comes down to mail-in ballots

Kim, who was born in South Korea and raised in Guam, ran on a platform of representing small business owners and largely avoided mentioning her party’s leader, US President Donald Trump, during her campaign.

“I’m a different kind of candidate,” she had said.

Jay Kim of California’s 41st district was the first Korean-American to serve in Congress, elected to the House of Representatives in 1992.

On November 13, Andy Kim, a Korean-American Democrat, unseated Republican incumbent Tom MacArthur and became New Jersey’s first Asian-American congressman.

Asian-Americans are the fastest growing minority population in the United States, according to the Pew Research Centre, and estimated by the US Census Bureau to make up around 6 per cent of the country’s population.

Additional reporting by Associated Press