Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(LOS ANGELES) — Republican Young Kim is running in California’s 39th district, and in a year where a surge of women are running for offices, she could be the first Korean-American immigrant woman elected to Congress.
Kim has made her individuality a cornerstone of her campaign, much like the incoming class of Republicans vying for a seat in purple areas.
The California district consists of parts of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties and is roughly two-thirds Asian or Latino, according to the Los Angeles Times. Immigrants make up about a third of the population.
Kim immigrated to the U.S. territory of Guam from South Korea in 1975, according to NBC. She later moved to Hawaii and eventually California to attend the University of Southern California. She owned or managed several businesses before making her way into the public sphere in 1990. Kim spent two decades working for outgoing GOP Rep. Ed Royce, first when he was a state senator and later in Congress. She ended her post with him as the director of community operations and Asian affairs.
She was then elected to the California Assembly in 2014, where she unseated an incumbent and became the first Korean-American woman to serve in the California House.
Now the Republican is running for Congress in a district that is, at the very least, skeptical of President Donald Trump. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won the district by just over three points in 2016 when she ran for president, despite the once traditionally Republican-leaning electorate.
The main pillar of Kim’s campaign is her knowledge of the area. Kim told The L.A. Times that her life experience has led her to a deeper understanding of her district. She’s spent years in public service and drives home her connection to her community as she campaigns.
“My personal experience of being an immigrant, having gone through what this diverse immigrant community has gone through, struggling. Those are real life experiences that really helped me understand … the district,” Kim told the L.A. Times.
She’s been quick to separate herself from Trump in an attempt to convince voters that all Republicans are not aligned with him.
“…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,” Kim said in an interview with the L.A. Times.
She’s broken from him on immigration policies, according to the Orange County Register, specifically on what Trump calls “chain migration.” This is a safe stance to take in a district comprised of so many immigrant families.
She has raised just under $1 million in the third quarter, largely through individual contributions. Her opponent, Democrat Gil Cisneros, has raised around $800,000 — also largely comprised of individual donations, according to FEC data.
ABC News partner FiveThirtyEight has the race forecast as a toss up, with Kim having a three in seven chance of keeping the seat red.
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