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Young Kim Unseats Gil Cisneros To Flip OC Seat Back to Red

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Democrat Gil Cisneros and Republican Young Kim are running for the U.S. House seat being vacated by Congressman Ed Royce. (Cisneros photo by Angel De Leon/Cisneros for Congress via AP; Kim photo from candidate's campaign)
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Young Kim has flipped the 39th Congressional District back to red, defeating Democratic incumbent Gil Cisneros in a nail-biter of a rematch. The Associated Press called the race on Friday.

The two first faced off during the midterm elections of 2018 in a race so close that it was not called for Cisneros until more than a week later.

This time, the roles have reversed. More than a week after election night, Kim had pulled ahead by 1.2 percentage points to win a district that spans Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties.

In a video posted on Twitter, Kim congratulated Cisneros on "a hard-fought campaign" and thanked her supporters, adding, "Whoever you voted for in this election, I hope you know that regardless of any difference we may have, I will always work on your behalf and fight for you."

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On Saturday, Cisneros posted a concession message on Twitter:

With her win, Kim joins a fast-growing class of Korean American members of Congress. Other Korean Americans elected this cycle were Michelle Steel, a fellow Republican from Orange County, and Marilyn Strickland, a Democrat from Washington. All were born in South Korea, and they all make history as the first three Korean American women ever elected to Congress.

They join Democrat Andy Kim of New Jersey, who was voted into office in 2018.

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Cisneros' win two years ago was part of a blue wave in Orange County that saw him and fellow Democrats Katie Porter, Mike Levin and Harley Rouda take Republican strongholds.

But the blue wave appears to have ebbed in parts. Rouda on Tuesday conceded to his Republican challenger Michelle Steel, an Orange County supervisor.

Rouda had been seen as the most vulnerable of the freshman members of Congress. His district along coastal Orange County has more registered Republicans than Democrats, even as the rest of region was moving left.

By contrast, Cisneros was seen in a stronger position in a district where registered Democrats outnumbered Republicans and is almost evenly split between Asian, Latino and white residents.

Before Cisneros, the area was represented for over two decades by former Congressman Ed Royce, for whom Kim used to work for as an aide.

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The last Korean American member of Congress hailed from from Los Angeles County. Jay Kim, a Republican from Diamond Bar, served until 1999.

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