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39th District: Young Kim and Gil Cisneros

Republican Rep. Ed Royce of Fullerton, who has served in the House of Representatives since 1993, announced in January that this term would be his last. The opening in California’s 39th Congressional District, covering parts of Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, has been a prime target for a Democratic pickup after Hillary Clinton won the district by 8.5 percentage points in 2016.

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Young Kim
Young Kim speaks at a gas tax rally in Fullerton on October 1. (Chris Carlson / AP)
Gil Cisneros
Gil Cisneros speaks during a forum at Fullerton College on January 10, 2018 in Fullerton, California. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
Republican Young Kim and Democrat Gil Cisneros. (Chris Carlson / Associated Press; Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Former Royce staffer and Republican state Assemblywoman Young Kim quickly picked up his endorsement. She’ll face Navy veteran Gil Cisneros, a lottery-winner-turned-philanthropist who outlasted a crowded field of Democrats in the primary. His campaign was dogged earlier by a sexual harassment allegation, which the woman later recanted. Cisneros has loaned his campaign $8.8 million since last year, according to campaign finance filings. The candidates are in a dead heat, according to a recent poll by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies.

District voters are most concerned about healthcare, the economy, taxes and gun laws, according to the IGS poll.

Healthcare

Kim

  • Healthcare isn't one of the issues addressed on her campaign website.
  • Kim has spoken out against the Affordable Care Act in the past, saying it "gave us nothing but broken promises," according to the Fullerton Observer.

Cisneros

  • “We need to work to fix and improve the [Affordable Care Act], not repeal it..., " Cisneros wrote on his website. "We need to work to stabilize insurance markets and have the government directly negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies to bring costs down.”

Economy and Taxes

Kim

  • Supports keeping taxes low.
  • Says she wants to reduce regulations and increase trade to help improve the climate for businesses.
  • Has not publicly addressed the impact from the Republican tax plan that capped state and local tax deductions.

Cisneros

  • Opposed the 2017 tax bill, calling it a tax cut for billionaires.
  • Criticized the tax cuts' cap on state, local and property tax deductions, saying the average homeowner in the 39th District lost thousands in savings.
  • Says he wants to reduce taxes for the middle class and eliminate breaks for special interests and corporations that send jobs overseas.

Proposition 6

Cisneros opposes repealing the gas tax increase because local businesses are benefiting from jobs created by infrastructure projects. "While I didn't support raising the gas tax because California families shouldn't have to pay for the Trump administration's misplaced priorities and tax giveaways to big corporations, jobs are on the line and we must finish what we started," he told The Times. Kim supports the repeal, saying the tax increase harms middle- and low-income families.

Gun Control

Store managers Jamie Taflinger, left, and Kendyll Murray show customer Cornell Hall, of Highland, different types of ammunition at the Get Loaded gun store in Grand Terrace in June 2016.
Store managers Jamie Taflinger, left, and Kendyll Murray show customer Cornell Hall, of Highland, different types of ammunition at the Get Loaded gun store in Grand Terrace in June 2016. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Kim

  • Has not publicly stated her position on gun control.
  • In 2015, when she was an assemblywoman, Kim voted against a bill to expand the prohibition of guns on school and college grounds to include concealed weapons.
  • Voted in 2016 against a bill expanding the definition of assault weapons that the state bans.
  • The National Rifle Assn. assigned her an "A" rating and the NRA's Political Victory Fund endorsed her, saying she supports right-to-carry laws and opposes bans on semiautomatic weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Cisneros

  • Wants to expand background check requirements, ban assault weapons and repeal the Dickey Amendment so the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can use federal funding to research firearms and gun violence.
  • Opposes concealed carry reciprocity.

Immigration

Kim

  • Immigrated to the United States from South Korea to attend college, an experience she has invoked when describing her positions.
  • Has spoken out against several Trump administration policies, including family separations and curbing immigrants' sponsorship of relatives for visas.
  • Supports a path to citizenship for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients.
  • Opposes sanctuary state law, calling it "an affront to law-abiding citizens and a threat to public safety."

Cisneros

  • Supports a piece of legislation written by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Downey) that offers Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients a pathway to citizenship.
  • Says family separation at the border is "cruel, inhumane, and goes against everything our country should stand for."
  • Has pledged he will not vote for any bill that would fund the border wall.
  • Wants to provide protection for Temporary Protected Status holders.

Ed Royce

Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton), shown on Sept. 26, has served in Congress for the last 25 years.
Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton), shown on Sept. 26, has served in Congress for the last 25 years. (Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

Kim

  • Worked for Royce for almost two decades.
  • Royce endorsed Kim the day after announcing he would retire.

Cisneros

  • "I think there's an injustice going on in this district with Ed Royce, who hasn't really served the community," he told The Times, pointing to Royce's vote in favor of repealing Obamacare.
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