World / Politics

Korean-American woman narrowly misses historic election to U.S. Congress


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 U.S. House of Representatives, according to the Associated Press.

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

The district’s demographics are split almost evenly among people who identify as White, Asian and Latino, according to last year’s U.S. census.

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

Neighboring districts in Orange County, which is 21 percent Asian-American, saw similarly close races between Democratic and Republican candidates. Democrats unseated Republican incumbents in two neighboring districts.

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

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, President Donald Trump, during her campaign.

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 Nov. 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 Center, and estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau to make up around 6 percent of the country’s population.