Young Kim was hoping to become the first Korean-American woman in Congress — and was Republicans' last hope in Orange County, California. But on Sunday, she lost to Democrat Gil Cisneros, making the state's 39th Congressional District yet another House Seat flipped by the Democrats. The seat, a closely watched midterms battleground, had been held by retiring Republican Ed Royce for 13 terms.
Now, the O.C. — formerly called "Reagan country" — is no longer a Republican stronghold, with all seven of its seats controlled by Democrats, four of them having been flipped blue. Cisneros is a former navy officer and shipping and manufacturing manager for Frito-Lay. He got into politics and philanthropy when he won a Mega Millions jackpot of $266 million right after being laid off from his job. Even he was a Republican until 2008, but switched when he felt the party had become "too ideological."
Kim, a former Republican state assemblywoman, didn't run as a "typical" Republican. In an interview with Refinery29 's Connie Wang earlier this year, she told her immigrant story and criticized Trump's hardline anti-immigration stance.
"My parents didn’t know a word of English," she said. "I found myself taking my parents to the DMV and having to translate on their behalf as they struggled to apply for driver’s licenses. Their education level was elementary school. But that’s the main reason that they came — to seek the economic opportunities to provide for the educational opportunity for their young kids."
She also said she supports the Dreamers. "I don’t support that rhetoric coming out that says all undocumented individuals are criminals," Kim said. "Republicans support people coming here legally to pursue the American Dream like my family did. What we are against are individuals who just come here, hide out, and somehow eventually you’re going to get your legal status — that includes many Asians, not just people from Mexico or Guatemala."
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