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Orange County Republicans are celebrating a second victory in flipping back a Congressional seat they lost in 2018, with Young Kim declaring victory Friday night after Democrat Rep. Gil Cisneros conceded the north OC-based 39th District.

“Our community is such a wonderful place because we come together to look out for one another. I will take that spirit with me to represent you in Washington, D.C.,” Kim said in a video released Friday evening.

“Following the results of this election, I want to congratulate Congressman Gil Cisneros on a hard-fought race. I want to thank him for his service to our country and to the 39th District.”

Cisneros publicly conceded earlier Friday evening.

“I called to congratulate Young Kim on her victory,” Cisneros said in a statement.

“For the benefit of the district and the country, I wish her nothing but the best and hope she will stay true to her word and protect those with preexisting conditions, work to lower prescription drug prices and reinstate the [state and local tax] deduction.”

Kim’s victory comes on the heels of Republicans flipping the coastal 48th Congressional District, with OC Supervisor Michelle Steel winning the seat from Democrat Rep. Harley Rouda.

Kim served as chief of staff to former Rep. Ed Royce and she’s been a steady presence in the Northern Orange County congressional district, which also touches San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties. She also rallied behind the anti-gas tax measure in 2018 and has distanced herself at times from national Republicans.

A former state assemblywoman, she campaigned on supporting small businesses during the pandemic and lowering taxes and health care costs. She also distanced herself from President Donald Trump by criticizing some of the language he used to describe the coronavirus pandemic, like calling it the “Chinese flu.”

Cisneros, a Navy veteran and California lottery winner, criticized Trump and the Senate for confirming Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court while the coronavirus relief package efforts stalled.

It’s the second congressional seat that Republicans have flipped this cycle, with County Supervisor Michelle Steel winning the 48th Congressional District seat against incumbent Democrat Harley Rouda. 

Local Republicans say Kim’s victory goes to show their comeback is well underway in Orange County from Democrats winning all of OC’s congressional seats in 2018.

“Young’s hard fought victory was our second congressional seat we took back from the Democrats after the 2018 ‘blue wave,’ ” said Fred Whitaker, chairman of the Orange County Republican Party, in a statement.

“Gil Cisneros got lucky when he won the lottery and used his winnings, along with outside far left donors, to win this seat in 2018. Today his luck ran out.”

Democrats have pointed to apparent victories in other seats – and Joe Biden’s lead in the presidential vote in OC – to say the momentum is on their side.

“The 39th Congressional District is a competitive battleground. We knew it would be a close election,” said Ada Briceño, chairwoman of the Orange County Democratic Party.

“Looking at our voter registration gains and down-ballot victories, Democrats clearly have momentum. We’re growing, and we’re turning this county more blue every year. We’re already preparing for 2022, and we are taking this seat back.”

The election results further solidify the region’s purple trend as both parties are looking at their own losses and wins across local races this year.

Democrats remain on track to flip two local Republican-held state Senate seats in the 29th and 37th Districts. 

Republicans are comfortably ahead to maintain Andrew Do’s central county supervisor’s seat, staving off Democrats’ challenge to flip a district with a voter registration tilting blue and spanning stretches of Latino and Vietnamese communities.

And a special election is now in store for Steel’s seat on the Board of Supervisors, expected to be held sometime in March. Some of the higher-profile candidates in the running – either announcing or considering – include Moorlach, who held the seat previously; Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley; Huntington Beach Councilman Mike Posey; and Newport Beach councilmen Kevin Muldoon and Will O’Neill.

The latest results update Friday evening showed no changes in major races, as ballot counting nears a close in the coming days.

For a complete rundown and the latest ballot count updates from election contests across Orange County, visit our Elections Page

Nick Gerda covers county government for Voice of OC. You can contact him at ngerda@voiceofoc.org.

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