SANTA ANA, Calif. (CNS)—Two Republican challengers have continued to widen slim leads over Orange County Democratic House members as the GOP looks to regain a congressional foothold in the once-decidedly conservative county.
The races remained too close to call, with the results susceptible to change as county election officials continue tabulating votes from the Nov. 3 election.
About 76,000 votes were counted and about 500 ballots arrived in the mail on Nov. 6, according to Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley. What’s left are about 30,000 ballots from new same-day registration voters in early voting and on Election Day, Kelley said.
Mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day can also be received as late as Nov. 20 and still be counted under state law.
The Orange County Registrar estimates there are about 94,281 ballots left to count.
As of Nov. 6, Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Michelle Steel leads Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Newport Beach) by 6,191 votes in the coastal 48th District. Steel has 50.83 percent of the vote to Rouda’s 49.17 percent, or 189,025 votes to 182,834.
Rouda campaigned on his achievements in Congress, insisting he can work across the aisle to reach consensus agreements. He said he wants to “continue our work to lower prescription drug costs, protect our coastline, and stand up to the insiders and special interests that run Washington.”
Steel said during her campaign she was running to provide a “strong voice in Washington, D.C., who will honor promises made and stand up for us and our values.”
She pointed to her work on the Board of Supervisors, saying she fought higher taxes while working to reduce traffic congestion and “ensuring our bays and coastlines are clean.”
Former Assemblywoman Young Kim led Rep. Gil Cisneros (D-Yorba Linda) by 2,940 votes, 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent, in the race to represent the 39th Congressional District, which consists of portions of Orange, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino counties. Kim has 155,453 votes and Cisneros 152,513.
The race is a rematch of 2018, when Cisneros defeated Kim, who had been a member of the staff of former Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton). Royce held the seat from 1993–2019.
Two years ago, Kim was leading and even traveled to Washington, D.C., for orientation for newly elected House members, only to be overtaken by Cisneros in late-arriving ballots.
Kim is seeking to be the first Korean-American woman in Congress.