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Orange County's GOP Is Bullish On These Asian American Women Candidates

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Young Kim, Republican candidate for the 39th congressional district, meets locals at a Panera Bread in Brea. (Josie Huang/LAist)
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In tomorrow's primary elections, at least two Asian American women are expected to emerge as the leading challengers to Democrats in districts that went blue in the 2018 midterms.

Young Kim, a former state representative from La Habra is in a rematch with Congressman Gil Cisneros, D-Yorba Linda, who won in a tight and costly race.

Michelle Steel, the chair of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, is trying to reclaim the 48th Congressional district from Congressman Harley Rouda, D-Newport Beach.

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A third Congressional candidate -- Peggy Huang, a city councilmember from Yorba Linda -- is one of the Republicans vying to topple Congresswoman Katie Porter, D-Irvine.

In a sign of confidence, the Republican National Committee has anointed Kim, Steel and Huang as 'Young Guns.' (Some of Huang's fellow GOP contenders in the 45th race have been as well.)

In Asian American politics, Orange County is an anomaly where the top elected officials are Republican and the highest profile of them are women.

GOP officials are hopeful the candidates will appeal to Asian American voters of all stripes, but especially the 40 percent not tied to either party.

But Christine Chen of the non-partisan APIAVote said that Asian American voters increasingly care more about the issues and less about racial affinity.

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"They're going to really look at each of the candidates to actually see, do the candidates' values line up with my values?" Chen said.

Surveys show that more of these values are lining up with Democrats on issues like health care, gun control and immigration reform.

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