California’s 39th Congressional District will see a rematch this November from the 2018 midterm elections, pitting first-term incumbent Democratic Rep. Gil Cisneros against former Republican California Assemblywoman Young Kim. The race is expected to be just as tight as last time.
The district, previously represented by Republican Rep. Ed Royce, who retired last cycle, is located in the southern region of the state and includes part of Los Angeles, Orange, and San Bernardino counties.
Cisneros defeated Kim in their previous face-off with 51.6% of the vote to her 48.4%, winning northern Orange County and parts of southeast Los Angeles County. Kim led Cisneros on election night, and the race was not called for two weeks. President Trump lost the 39th District by 9 points in 2016, and the Cook Political Report rates the district as “likely Democratic.”
Kim, who came to the U.S. as a preteen with her family from Seoul, South Korea, was the first Korean American Republican in the California State Assembly. Following her work as a financial analyst and later her time as a business owner for womenswear, she worked for Royce as the congressman’s community liaison and director of Asian affairs. She also appeared on local TV and radio programs she developed related to issues affecting Korean Americans.
Cisneros, best known for winning a $266 million Mega Millions lottery jackpot in 2010 just weeks after he was laid off from his job as a shipping and manufacturing manager for Frito-Lay, launched scholarships and endowments for Latino students at George Washington University and the University of Southern California.
A Navy veteran, Cisneros currently serves on the House Armed Services Committee as well as the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
The race flared up when the Kim campaign dropped its first ad criticizing Cisneros over whether he was honest about his pledge related to taking corporate PAC donations.
The Kim camp also went after Cisneros when information regarding his financial disclosures showed he benefited from prescription drug hikes.
Cisneros hit back at Kim, tweeting that the California Republican “accepted at least $32,000 from Big Pharma. I voted against their interests and have championed bills to lower drug prices. Young can’t even bring herself to say the words ‘Big Pharma.’ We know where she stands, it’s with them.”