Michelle Park Steel won a Democrat-held U.S. House district in California, according to new projections.
Steel, a member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, will be one of the first Korean-American women in Congress along with fellow representative-elect Marilyn Strickland (D-Wash.).
Decision Desk and the Associated Press called the race for California’s 48th District on Tuesday. The district includes parts of Los Angeles, Orange, and San Bernardino counties
Steel, 65, said in a statement: “This victory has been hard-fought and hard-won, and I could not be more humbled to have your support nor more honored to serve our community in Congress. Now, let’s get to work.”
According to the current unofficial vote count, Steel received 196,208 votes.
Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Calif.) received 189,235.
Rouda, 58, announced his concession to Steel.
“I was proud to be the first Democrat ever to represent California’s 48th Congressional District,” Rouda said in a statement. “While one campaign ends today, another is just beginning. I look forward to having voters compare my opponent’s two years in Congress with my accomplishments on Nov. 8, 2022.”
Rouda was vying for a second term after beating Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), who had represented the district since 2014, by about 19,000 votes in the 2018 midterm elections.
“Congratulations to Michelle Steel on a decisive victory. California’s 48th District finally has a congresswoman who puts her constituents first. I look forward to her tireless work on behalf of Orange County,” National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) said in a statement.
Steel’s win is one of a number of triumphs for Republicans in Democrat-held districts, many of them by women.
At least seven Republican women have won in such districts, as part of a red wave that has added a net of five seats for the GOP in the House, with 16 races still not called.
They include Oklahoma state Sen. Stephanie Bice, South Carolina businesswoman Nancy Mace, and former Florida journalist Maria Elvira Salazar.
In a memo issued earlier Tuesday, the NRCC celebrated the results so far, noting that many pollsters and pundits predicted double-digit GOP losses before the election.
“From Day One of this cycle, Chairman Emmer made it a priority to recruit the most diverse slate of candidates ever, and now, Republicans are welcoming a record-breaking new member class. Every House Republican candidate who flipped a Democrat-held seat is a woman, a minority, and/or a veteran,” the memo said.
Young Kim, another Korean-American, is ahead in the current unofficial count in another House district in California.
Kim is 1 percent ahead of Rep. Gil Cisneros (D-Calif.).
That race has not yet been called.