Republican incumbent Rep. Young Kim and Dr. Asif Mahmood, a Democrat, are vying to represent the
suburban 40th Congressional District, which lies mostly in Orange County.
The race is one of
10 key California contests in the Nov. 8 midterm election that could determine the balance of power in the House of Representatives.
These answers are drawn from a questionnaire sent to candidates in competitive California congressional races. The responses have been edited for clarity and length.
Why do you think you should be elected to Congress? Kim “In Congress, I have been working to break through gridlock in Washington and deliver results for our community. I am proud that my record ranks the most bipartisan of the freshman member class, and I think that shows how I am committed to the people I serve, not Washington special interests. In my first term, I have consistently fought to lower out-of-control prices and get inflation under control, worked to keep our communities safe amid rising crime, and advocated for our veterans to ensure they receive the care they deserve.” Mahmood “I became a doctor because my parents taught me that helping others is our highest calling. For more than 20 years, I have helped patients overcome their health challenges and go on to lead richer lives. I am running for Congress because CA-40 needs leaders who wake up every day to solve problems and actually help families in our district.” What about your experiences makes you most qualified? Kim “I am a Korean immigrant who has lived my own American Dream, and I am committed to ensuring the American Dream remains a reality for all Americans. Self-serving politicians have failed us too many times, and I believe I am a unique voice in Congress breaking through the gridlock to actually represent our community, fight for opportunity, and stand up to save the American Dream.” Mahmood “I have worked with thousands of people from all walks of life in my time as a physician. When I treat a patient, they don’t tell me if they are a Republican or Democrat,” the pulmonologist said. “Most people don’t see their life through the prism of politics. They want leaders in Washington who will help them — not either political party. That’s what I am running to do — work across the aisle to pass legislation and serve our families. I have a deep appreciation for our country and community, and I look forward to serving all citizens in CA-40.” What would be your top legislative priorities? Kim “My top priority is to slow inflation and lower skyrocketing prices. This starts by cutting the reckless spending that is fueling inflation. I will continue fighting to secure our border and will push for Congress to consider my bill — H.R. 7260, the Comprehensive Southern Border Strategy Act — to establish a strategy to stop illegal immigration, human trafficking and fentanyl coming through our southern border. I will also work towards advancing my legislation — H.R. 7552, the Golden-preneurship [Act], to support senior entrepreneurs who are looking to establish or expand their small business.” Mahmood “My top legislative priorities are protecting reproductive rights, implementing common-sense gun safety laws, fighting inflation, and lowering the cost of healthcare. The Supreme Court ruling repealing abortion rights is an attack on women.... In Congress, I will fight to pass federal legislation that protects the right to choose,” he said. Mahmood said he would push for legislation to ban assault weapons and strengthen background checks and work to help struggling families. “Groceries, gas, and housing are all increasing while many see their paychecks remaining the same. The cost of higher education, preschool, and early childhood education is cost-prohibitive for many. In Congress, I will create legislation to reduce taxes for the middle class while eliminating tax breaks for big corporations who send jobs overseas. I will work to increase workforce training and create better opportunities for our families to succeed economically.” How would you work with the other party and on what issues? Kim Kim cited her record of participating in bipartisan bills in the House, including the PPP Extension Act. She added: “I would like to continue work on legislation that supports our small businesses and entrepreneurs. One bill that I will continue to champion is H.R. 7552, which supports seniors who are building and expanding their small businesses.” Mahmood “I am willing to work across the aisle on virtually any issue if it means improving the lives of people in this district. Leaders in Washington should be focused on helping people, not partisan political games.” On abortion Kim Kim has consistently voted against measures to protect abortion access, including the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022, the Ensuring Access to Abortion Act of 2022, and the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021. “I respect the Supreme Court’s decision and believe abortion should be largely left to the states. As a mother and new grandmother, I am pro-life and will always stand up for the most vulnerable among us.” Kim did not answer the portion of the question regarding whether there should be exceptions for rape, incest or the health of the pregnant person. Mahmood “In my work as a physician, I have seen just how personal these decisions are. The difficult choice to terminate a pregnancy should remain between the patient and physician. I believe there should be federal protections for abortion access and will fight to codify Roe vs. Wade as federal law while expanding reproductive health care.” He criticized lawmakers who oppose abortion rights and “insert themselves into these very personal decisions.” On the Jan. 6 insurrection and falsehoods about the 2020 presidential election Kim Kim broke with most Republican members of Congress, who on Jan. 6, 2021, tried to block certification of 2020 electoral votes in several states. After the Capitol riot, Kim voted against objections to certifying the electoral votes from Pennsylvania. She missed the vote on Arizona because she was waiting for COVID test results. She voted against impeaching President Trump and against forming a committee to investigate the insurrection. “President Biden was duly elected president. At that moment in time, I felt it was important for the country to move forward and begin to heal, not pick partisan fights that would delay the work that needed to be done for the American people.” Mahmood Mahmood wrote that voting “against holding bipartisan investigations” into the attack on the Capitol was “shameful.” He accused his opponent of voting to stop “efforts to learn the facts behind Trump’s involvement in the attack.” On mass shootings and gun control Kim “We need to enforce our current gun laws and provide expanded mental health services and increase security at our schools. These are clear changes that all parties support. I have also supported legislation that would strengthen and expedite the current background check system.” Kim voted in favor of the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2021, which passed the House. She voted against this summer’s bipartisan Safer Communities Act, meant to stop dangerous people from acquiring guns, toughen background checks for young buyers and boost investments in mental health. Mahmood “While I support the 2nd Amendment, there is no question that we need to strengthen our gun safety laws. I believe in reinstating the assault weapon ban and supporting background check legislation to protect our communities.” On the Affordable Care Act and prescription drug costs Kim “I am committed to finding ways to improve the quality of care and expand access to our healthcare system, upgrading tele-health care, promoting accessibility and lowering costs. I also will ensure that pre-existing conditions are protected. In Congress, I have co-sponsored legislation to expand access to tele-health and the Lower Costs, More Cures Act as a pro-market way to help lower costs and incentivize competition.” Kim joined other Republican members of Congress in voting against the Inflation Reduction Act, which included a large healthcare component. Mahmood “Americans are paying premiums for healthcare while drug costs continue to skyrocket. I would strengthen the Affordable Care Act in Congress, as well as fight to lower the costs of prescription drugs by making it easier to produce generic drugs and expanding Medicare negotiations. As we’ve seen with insulin, the out-of-pocket cost for patients has risen exponentially over the past few years. Only a handful of companies produce the medicine, allowing for price gouging.” On immigration, the border, citizenship Kim “I do not support a blanket amnesty for those who entered our country illegally. I do believe in a path to legal status for Dreamers — people who came as children and have [resided] in our country for many years.” Mahmood “Our immigration system needs a massive overhaul. I support comprehensive immigration reform that provides a pathway to citizenship for those who follow the rules. As an immigrant myself, I know how life-changing it is to be able to come to this country in search of a better life,” said Mahmood, who was raised in Pakistan. “However, we need to support those who do it the right way and wait their turn in line. Border security is an important part of the equation and must be strengthened.” What is the federal government’s role in dealing with the homeless crisis? Kim “Homelessness is a pressing issue in California and needs to be addressed in a multifaceted way. First, housing prices in California have made our state unaffordable. State policies have held back housing and we need to make sure these do not become the federal standard. Second, we need to focus on public-private partnerships to provide training opportunities for people to learn skills needed to join our workforce and succeed. Third, we must expand mental health resources.” Mahmood “The homelessness crisis across the country is at a critical point. The federal government must do far more to help the homeless population and assist us in California in building affordable housing and providing mental health support. In Congress, I would push for more permanent supportive housing, in-patient addiction and mental treatment centers, and more job training programs for the homeless.”