Support for incumbent Congresswoman Young Kim (R-CA) continued to solidify on Wednesday in the Orange County-centric 40th Congressional District race against Democratic challenger and Medical Board of California Board member Asif Mahmood following a series of prominent endorsements.
Earlier this year, for Congresswoman Kim, winning another term in office was still up in the air. In addition to Mahmood, another prominent Republican, former Mission Viejo Mayor Greg Raths, was in the race, along with other candidate who leaned right. Trying to take advantage of this, and get a more right-leaning candidate to face to make for an easier election, the Mahmood team only focused on Raths in order to discount Kim early. While Raths would have also likely given Mahmood a competitive run in the newly re-lined district, the Democratic strategy failed, with coming in a strong second-place.
While Mahmood won the June primary with 40.9% of the vote, Republicans had a strong showing with Kim getting 34.7% of the vote, Raths getting 23.2% of the vote and other candidates, mostly right-leaning, getting 1.2% of the vote. In total, Republicans had come out to vote, and the election quickly swung back towards Kim’s favor.
“The Democrats tried something very foolish,” explained Anya Thompson, an election analyst in Boston, to the Globe on Friday.” In many primaries, including the Kim one in California, Democrats tried to make it seem that the candidate farthest to the right in contentious races with one Democrat running would be seen as the favorite, and then have the Democrat pick up the more moderate votes and win.
“That strategy hit a brick wall, and the Kim-Raths situation kind of encompasses that. First of all, the District is still red enough that Raths probably would have won anyway. Second of all, they tried to displace a popular incumbent. Third of all, GOP voters still tend to vote for the Republican candidate regardless because of party loyalty. And fourth, they kind of threw a lot of their eggs in that basket early on, so if they failed, they would fade in the stretch. And look what happened in the 40th. Before the primary, everyone thought it was going to be a close one. But Kim got in, coming with it the incumbency, a lot more funding, and a candidate with prior elected experience. They didn’t just shoot themselves in the foot. They did that, then they decided to reload and do it again.”
More endorsements in the 40th Congressional District race
Kim’s funding and momentum kept up during the summer, with prominent endorsements from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton failing to put a dent in Kim’s large lead. However, Kim herself had been falling behind in endorsements, with only a few fellow members of congress and a few political organizations officially backing her. But that changed on Wednesday with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce giving her the endorsement. As a U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsement usually means victory for those who get it, the endorsement helped solidify Kim’s chances next month, with the 40th Congressional district moving into ‘likely R’ and ‘Solid R’ territory and her chances of winning now shooting up to 96%.
“Representative Young Kim’s strong record of leadership and delivering results for the constituents and businesses of California are significant,” said U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior Political Strategist Ashlee Rich Stephenson in a statement on Wednesday. “As a small business owner, Rep. Kim deeply understands the challenges and economic needs facing employers, the workforce, and families in California. She is committed to pro-growth policies and free enterprise solutions that will move our nation forward. The U.S. Chamber is proud to support Rep. Kim in her re-election.”
Election day is now just over one month away on November 8th.
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