“I’ll have to accept the election result. I’ve been running forward for four years now.”
Those were the words from Young Kim, a Korean-American Republican who has served in the California State Assembly, representing the 65th Assembly District, which encompasses parts of Orange County. Behind her smile, there was a genuine disappointment, as her eyes were tearing up.
Kim has been touted as one of the most hardworking politicians in the California State Assembly. Even many Democrats agree that she could have won reelection had she not been a Republican during this polarizing, divided political period in the United States.
Some went on to say that Kim’s defeat was triggered by Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election. Although Trump’s win has helped many Republicans in other states, it was the opposite for conservative politicians in largely liberal California.
As Trump vowed to fight against liberal approach to immigration in the U.S., the topic has become a contentious issue in the 65th District, an area that saw an increase of 20,000 Hispanic voters over the last two years. Many have agreed that the changing demographic is what ultimately helped Democrat Sharon Quirk-Silva to unseat Kim, who once defeated her in 2014. It was more or less a collateral damage for Kim.
Despite losing a tightly fought race, Kim showed her support for Quirk-Silva.
“[Sharon Quirk-Silva] is someone who held her ground amid heavy criticism for many years,” Kim said. “If she does a good job, I believe that I will be given another good chance. I have no regrets as I did my best. I am proud to have left a mark.”
Kim’s loss also served as a devastating shock for California Republicans. Aside from her, Republican David Hadley also lost his seat to Democrat Al Muratsuchi.
Having been the first Korean-American in 36 years to enter the California State Assembly, Kim remained tightlipped about her future.
“I want to rest first and foremost,” said Kim. “I will announce my next p
lan once I am fully rested. Korean voters who don’t live in our district supported me by providing funds, while those in the district contributed with both votes and funding. There were 20 volunteers from PAVA World and Dongseo University who were in my office every week to help me out. I will forever be grateful, as their support will be unforgettable.”
Kim’s last day in the office is Dec. 4.
By Michael Won