After the Democratic Party seized control of the House of Representatives in November, the historically Republican stronghold of Orange County, Calif. became a central focus of the national media.
With four Republican districts flipping to Democratic control, Republicans are now mounting multiple challenges for 2020 to try to reverse what happened in 2018.
In the 45th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Irvine, Tustin, Orange, Mission Viejo and parts of Anaheim, candidates are already beginning to announce their intentions to run. The District has a 3-point Republican registration lead, which led many to wonder where former Republican Congresswoman Mimi Walters went wrong last fall. After the final results came in, Democrat Katie Porter bested Walters by 4 percentage points.
As of April 2019, a number of Republican challengers have already announced they are running against Porter. The Epoch Times had the opportunity to speak with Yorba Linda City Councilor Peggy Huang about the state of the district and her decision to run.
Huang was first elected to the City of Yorba Linda’s City Council in 2014, serving as Mayor Pro Tem and Mayor in 2016 and 2017 respectively. She still maintains her seat on the council.
Born in Taiwan, Huang moved to the US at the age of 7, eventually settling in Irvine, Calif. where she attended University High School. She studied Political Science at UC Berkeley and received her Juris Doctor from University of the Pacific.
Following a number of years as a trial attorney, with an emphasis on victims’ rights and sexual abuse, she decided to run for local office.
After Walters’ loss last fall, Huang decided to jump in the race to unseat Porter.
On the issue of why Katie Porter won in the district, Huang cites Porter’s ability to rally the college age population. This was largely due to the fact that Porter was a professor at UC Irvine’s law school and had a presence on campus, where Walters didn’t target student related issues.
“The kids at UC Irvine are not necessarily dedicated Democrats. There are just looking for someone who is going to listen to them” she stated.
She also noted that Mimi Walters’ support dropped because of her support for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which reduced California’s SALT deductions. Republicans frustrated with Walters opted to sit out of the election as a form of protest to her actions.
“Many thought that because it was a Republican district, that a few missing votes wouldn’t matter. Now Republicans understand their vote truly counts and they won’t make the same mistake,” she added.
Huang believes her platform on addressing the student loan crisis, assisting disadvantaged and vulnerable members of society, and supporting foster youth will resonate with voters.
She also cites her experience in governance the City of Yorba Linda and overcoming challenges she has faced in that capacity as qualifiers for her run for congress.
Huang told The Epoch Times that in her capacity as a councilwoman and as mayor, she made herself open to all groups and addressed all issues. “I make myself available seven days a week and spend hours listening to community representatives’ concerns. I am always willing to listen.”
Another issue Huang says Orange County is facing is healthcare, which was a major issue for the Democratic Party in 2018.
“The double digit increases of healthcare costs that puts a burden on the family is tremendous. The Affordable Care Act did not address costs and did not live up to its name.” Huang claims. “If you look back at the trajectory of the costs it has been rising more rapidly than when it was just a fee for service, free market system.”
On the topic of the push for Medicare for all, of which Katie Porter is a major supporter, Huang says we already have socialized medicine in America. “That is the Veteran’s Healthcare system. The VA is truly socialized medicine and we are doing a horrible job taking care of our vets.”
Huang believes that universal healthcare is an expansion of the existing VA system. “Do we want to put 300 million into the existing VA system. There is no discussion on how to improve the VA system. If your model for single payer is the is an expansion of the VA, it will go down in disaster.”
Huang also cites transportation and ending congestion on the major throughways that go through the district as a major priority. She stated that the county needs to get on board with San Diego County’s efforts to expand the 5 freeway, among other projects to decongest the roads.
Due to a growing population, she also sees the district suffering due to a lack of affordable housing and the high cost of living, which she says she will work to address. “We can’t have people working here live in Riverside and drive in. We love the economic engine of Orange County, but we are also suffering from it.”
When questioned on why she’s qualified to take on Katie Porter, Huang stated that she has been working on regional issues that are important to the district and has been involved in issues of the economy for the region.
“I am the chair of the Economic Community and Human Development Committee for SCAG (Southern California Association of Governments),” she said.
SCAG, being the largest metropolitan planning organization in the country, represents around 18.5 million California residents.
“Regionally, I am already tackling the issues that are most important to this region. Transportation, affordable housing and homelessness as well as education,” she explained.
With the California primaries being moved from June to March of 2020, the election is less than a year away. With Orange County now seen as a swing region, Huang explained the importance of bipartisan solutions.
“The problem today is that people are unwilling to compromise. As a society, we must come to an agreement and move towards each other. You can do so much if you’re patient. First and foremost, you have to have a vision and the patience to get there.”
Many more are expected to enter the race, as there still remains roughly ten months remaining until the primary. California’s 2020 Primary election will be on March 3rd 2020 for all Presidential, Congressional and statewide initiatives.