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Korean-American Woman, Hispanic Navy Veteran Vying to Replace Long-Serving GOP Rep. in Diverse Battleground District

Left, Gil Cisneros speaks at a rally in Fullerton on Oct. 4, 2018. Right, Young Kim makes campaign calls at her campaign office in Yorba Linda on Oct. 6, 2018. (Credit: Getty Images / left, Mario Tama; right, ROBYN BECK)

Left, Gil Cisneros speaks at a rally in Fullerton on Oct. 4, 2018. Right, Young Kim makes campaign calls at her campaign office in Yorba Linda on Oct. 6, 2018. (Credit: Getty Images / left, Mario Tama; right, ROBYN BECK)

In California’s 39th Congressional District, a Republican who could be the first Korean-American congresswoman and a Hispanic Democratic man are battling it out to replace retiring Rep. Ed Royce, an older white man seen as part of the GOP establishment.

The demographically diverse district encompasses parts of inland Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties including Fullerton, Yorba Linda, Rowland Heights, Chino Hills and Diamond Bar.

Latinos and Asians together now make up a majority of Orange County’s 3.2 million residents. In 1980, the population was about 80 percent white.

The district that once overwhelmingly supported Republican candidates — including Richard Nixon, whose presidential library is in Yorba Linda — went for Hillary Clinton in 2016, making it a target to flip congressional balance of power this election.

Cisneros is a Navy veteran and political newcomer who previously became involved in philanthropic efforts after winning $266 million in the California Mega Millions lottery in 2010. Formerly a Republican, he switched his party affiliation in 2008.

Kim was born in South Korea, raised in Guam and immigrated to California to attend college. She later owned a small business before being elected to the state Assembly. Her campaign has worked to distance her positions from President Trump’s, highlighting her support for DACA and student loan forgiveness.

Cisneros has raised $11.1 million, more than four times Kim’s $2.5 million, according to the most recent reporting data.

Read more on the issue-by-issue differences between Cisneros and Kim here.