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45th Congressional District Results: Michelle Steel Defeats Jay Chen

An Asian man in glasses and open collar shirt wit suit jacket on left; an Asian woman with dark hair and bangs on right
Republican Michelle Steel has defeated Democrat Jay Chen in a tough fight to represent California's 45th district in Congress.
(Photo illustration by Josie Huang

Live Results

Republican Michelle Steel has secured a second term in Congress after a pitched battle for the 45th House district that drew national attention because of her anti-Communist ads targeting opponent Democrat Jay Chen.

While votes are still being counted, the AP called the race for Steel late Monday.

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In a statement released on social media Monday night, Steel said: "I have been firm in my commitment to deliver for Southern California, and will continue to work to lower taxes, stop inflation, and keep the American Dream alive for working class families."

Chen conceded the race on social media Tuesday afternoon.

"While Michelle Steel has won the election, the attacks on my patriotism because of my Asian heritage were unbecoming of a United States Representative," he said.

Chen pointed out that Steel refused to debate him, hold town halls or conduct interviews with news media.

"While this race has ended, my work to ensure that California's 45th Congressional district has a representative that will fight for working families continues," he said.

The two Asian Americans had been vying to represent a district with one of the largest Asian American electorates in California — or anywhere. The 45th, which sits mostly in Orange County, was redrawn last year during redistricting to cradle Little Saigon, home to the largest Vietnamese American diaspora.

Democrats have a 5 point-advantage in voter registration in the district, which also contains a sliver of L.A. County. But support for Republican candidates remains strong as was evident in the primary when Steel and a Republican candidate, Long Pham, running to the right of her won 56.8% of the vote.

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Steel's campaign appealed to the strong anti-Communist sentiment that runs through Little Saigon by portraying Chen, a Taiwanese American officer in the Naval Reserve, as sympathetic to the Chinese government. This line of attack stemmed from Chen's time on a school board, when more than a decade ago, he had voted to adopt a free Chinese language program that the State department has since criticized for its links to the Chinese Communist Party.

In the weeks leading up to the election, the tactics of the Steel campaign drew widespread condemnation from leaders in the Asian American Pacific Islander community, and a protest outside of her Buena Park office.

About The Candidates

Jay Chen

Chen, 44, owns a real estate firm and sits on the board of the Mt. San Antonio College Board of Trustees. He serves as an intelligence officer in the Naval Reserve.

A son of Taiwanese immigrants, Chen has run for Congress twice before. He is a former school board trustee for the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District.

During the campaign he advocated for reproductive rights and lower prescription drug costs, as well as measures to stop large companies from unnecessarily raising prices.

Michelle Steel

Steel, 67, is a long-time Republican politician who became one of the first three Korean American women to join Congress in 2018, when she upset Democratic incumbent Harley Rouda.

Steel, a Korean immigrant whose parents fled North Korea, is well-known in Orange County where she served on the Board of Supervisors. She was first elected to office in 2006 as a member of the California State Board of Equalization.

Steel has said her priorities include lowering taxes and fighting the national security threat presented by China.

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A Note On The Results

  • Keep in mind that in tight races particularly, the winner may not be determined for days or weeks after Election Day. In L.A. County, the first batch of results released includes vote by mail ballots received before Election Day, followed by early votes cast at vote centers before Election Day, then votes cast in-person on Election Day. This process is expected to wrap up in the early hours of Nov. 9. Then, additional results will be released following a schedule you can see on the county's site. In California, ballots postmarked on or before Nov. 8 are counted toward the results as long as they arrive within seven days of the election. Results must be certified by county election officials by Dec. 8.

Tracking Your Ballot

You can track the status of your ballot:

If your mail-in ballot is rejected for any reason (like a missing or mismatched signature), your county registrar must contact you to give you a chance to fix it. In Los Angeles County, the registrar will send you a notification by mail and you have until Nov. 28 to reply and "cure" your ballot.

How We're Covering This Election

  • Early voters and mail-in ballots have fundamentally reshaped how votes are counted and when election results are known.

  • 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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