Republican Young Kim defeats Gil Cisneros in House race, flips California seat red

Young Kim defeated first-term Democratic Rep. Ed Cisneros in California’s 39th Congressional District, a traditionally Republican area east and south of Los Angeles that has since moved left.

The California Republican won the race with 50.6% of the vote to Cisneros’s 49.4% with 99% of the precincts reporting. Kim is part of a growing list of over a dozen Republicans who flipped Democratic districts this cycle.

“The voters have spoken, and I want to congratulate @YoungKimCA on her victory and wish her nothing but success for the 39th District. I’m proud to have served my country in the U.S. Navy, and I’m proud to have served it again in Congress. It’s been the honor of a lifetime,” Cisneros said in a tweet on Friday evening.

The 39th Congressional District includes areas of Los Angeles, Orange, and San Bernardino counties. Despite its many recent years of Republican representation, the Cook Political Report rated the district this cycle as “likely Democratic.”

Former Republican Rep. Ed Royce represented the district for 26 years until his retirement in the 2018 cycle. The seat flipped to Democratic control when Cisneros defeated Kim with 51.6% of the vote to her 48.4%. The race was not called for two weeks. President Trump lost the 39th District by 9 points in 2016.

Kim, who arrived in the United States as a pre-teenager with her family from Seoul, South Korea, was the first Korean American Republican in the California state Assembly. She worked for Royce as the congressman’s community liaison and director of Asian affairs. Prior to that, she was a financial analyst and business owner in the women’s wear industry.

Cisneros became rich by winning the $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. The Democratic congressman and Navy veteran, along with his wife, established scholarships and endowments for Latino students and colleges and universities in California.