Rafu Staff Report

The Nov. 8 election in California’s 40th Congressional District is between two AAPI candidates: the Republican incumbent, Young Kim, and the Democratic challenger, Dr. Asif Mahmood.

Rep. Young Kim

Kim, who was born in South Korea, is serving her first term in Congress and is one of the first Korean American women elected to the House, along with fellow Orange County Republcan Michelle Steel and Washington Democrat Marilyn Strickland. She lost to Democrat Gil Cisneros in 2018 but unseated him in 2020. She served in the State Assembly from 2014 to 2016 and was director of community relations and Asian affairs for Rep. Ed Royce.

Mahmood is a pulmonologist who was born and raised in Pakistan and immigrated to the U.S. after receiving his medical degree. He serves on the California Medical Board. If elected, he would be the first Pakistani American in Congress.

Abortion is one of the issues in the race. Mahmood says he would support a woman’s right to choose and fight to codify Roe v. Wade as federal law. Kim has been given a 100 percent rating by the California Pro-Life Council and the National Right to Life Committee.

Dr. Asif Mahmood

According Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, “Congresswoman Kim has stood up against the pro-abortion agenda of the Biden-Harris administration and Pelosi Democrats who are actively working to expand abortion access and abortion funding.”

In an Oct. 25 Facebook post, Mahmood said he was the target of anti-South Asian racism, quoting a tweet that read,”Who do you think your (sic) running for office in the United States? We AMERICANS do not want more rag head terrorists in our government or country. Get out!! Get the f— out! You are nothing more than animals who can’t get along in the Western world. You belong in your sand box in Pakistan. Not here on our fine American soil.

“You are a doctor but are for abortion? You just want the votes so you can infiltrate our government. That’s what you rags do … You are NOT welcome and NOT wanted here in our great state and country. You rag heads have done NOTHING but degrade our country’s standards … TRUMP WON AND CALIFORNIA IS RED.”

Mahmood wrote, “My team received this message this morning. This type of hatred and xenophobia is too often amplified by the far right and extremists in our government. Young Kim herself is an immigrant, yet she sides with a party who uplifts hateful rhetoric like the kind in this email.

“Immigrants make our country stronger. In no other country in the world could a boy from rural Pakistan move across the world, build a new life, a new community, and a new future for their family. I love America because I chose America.

“When I first moved to the U.S., I remember splitting a Whopper and fries with a friend because that was all we could afford. But I am the American Dream. And I’m running for Congress because I know that we can — and we must — do better by our neighbors.

“Don’t let this type of hatred take control of our democracy.”

Kim has acknowledged that anti-Asian violence is a problem, but in a Lunar New Year op-ed published by The Hill, she and Steel said that calls to defund the police have only led to no prosecutions, weakened bail policies and downgrading of felonies to misdemeanors.

“It seems like every day there is a new story of criminals brazenly robbing businesses, destroying property, and even targeting Asian elders,” Kim and Steel wrote. “We are both proud to stand with our brave law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line to keep us safe.”

The 40th Congressional District overlaps portions of Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties and includes the cities and communities of Yorba Linda, Chino Hills, Anaheim, Rancho Santa Margarita, Mission Viejo, Aliso Viejo, and Tustin.

The newly redrawn 40th District is more Republican than Kim’s previous district, although the majority of constituents were not represented by Kim until now. The race is one of 10 key California contests in the midterms that could determine the balance of power in the House.

According to Business Insider, the outcome of the race is rated as “likely Republican” by Inside Elections, The Cook Political Report, and Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

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