Congressional District 39: Young Kim Wins, Flipping The SoCal Seat Back To Republicans

Updated Nov 13, 2020 6:04 PM |
Published Nov 3, 2020

Young Kim has defeated Democratic incumbent Congressman Gil Cisneros in the 39th District Congressional race, according to the Associated Press.

Kim's victory, by a narrow margin, puts the district back in the hands of Republicans following the blue wave that swept California during the 2018 midterm elections.

Votes %
Gil Cisneros 167,022 49.4%
Young Kim 171,043 50.6%

* These results will be continually updated. Last updated on Friday, Nov. 13 at 5:55 p.m.

This election was in fact a rematch for the two candidates following the 2018 midterms.

For several days after that election, Kim appeared to be the winner and even flew to Washington, D.C. for freshman orientation. But when the mail-in ballots were all counted, Cisneros had pulled ahead by three points, handing the long-time red district, which extends into three counties, to the Democrats.

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In the two years since, Cisneros had built an advantage as an incumbent in a district that is growing more diverse. But it became clear early on that he could face a tight race. In the March primary, in which Cisneros and Kim were the top two vote-getters, she beat the congressman by almost two points.


Cisneros is a Navy veteran and a lottery winner who used his winnings to enter the world of educational philanthropy before turning to public service.

The Yorba Linda resident has poured millions of his own dollars into his congressional campaigns. During the time he's held office, Cisneros has advocated on veterans' issues, health care and immigration reform, and has been holding virtual town halls on the coronavirus. To cater to his diverse constituency, Cisneros has hired staff who speak Spanish and Asian languages.

Kim is a former state representative who was seen by OC Republicans as the heir apparent to the retiring congressman for the 39th, Ed Royce, for whom she worked as a top aide.

An immigrant from South Korea, Kim said she expected her candidacy to appeal to the district's Asian population. She supported the re-election of President Trump although she's said she did not always agree with each of his policies, like family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border. If Kim, who lives in La Habra, were to win, she would be the country's first Korean American congresswoman.



The 39th Congressional District spans parts of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties, and includes the cities of Chino Hills, Fullerton and Buena Park.

The population is almost evenly split between Asian, Latino and white residents.

The 39th district was a longtime Republican stronghold, with Rep. Ed Royce holding office from 1993 until his retirement in 2019. But Gil Cisneros was able to win the district for the Democrats in the 2018 midterms. Now the Congressman is making his case for re-election to an increasingly diverse electorate that slightly favors Democrats. Voter registration is 36.1% Democrat compared to 35.9% Republican.

A Note On The Results


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The unprecedented number of early voters and mail-in ballots this election means it's going to take more time to get votes counted. Our priority will be sharing outcomes and election calls only when they have been thoroughly checked and vetted. To that end, we will rely on NPR and The Associated Press for race calls. We will not report the calls or projections of other news outlets. You can find more on NPR and The AP's process for counting votes and calling races here, here and here.


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