IRVINE — Mayor Sukhee Kang announced last week that he will seek the Democratic nomination for Congress in a newly redrawn congressional district.
Kang, 58, announced that he will run for the proposed new district, which is being redrawn from parts of the existing 48th District, represented by John Campbell (R-Irvine), and the 46th, represented by Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) in 2012.
Though district lines have not been finalized, the territory could include parts of Irvine, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach and other cities. Voter registration in much of the territory, such as Newport Beach, favors Republicans, while other areas, such as Laguna Beach, are strongly Democratic.
But still, the edge goes to the GOP.
"Regardless of how the lines end up, that is a safe Republican district," said Scott Baugh, chairman of the Republican party of Orange County.
Kang could find an advantage in Irvine's strongly Asian American population, drawing votes from Republicans as well. If successful, he would be the only Korean American in Congress.
"There has been a lot of partisan politics in this region," Kang said. "Frankly, I have never promoted my partisanship. What I feel is most important is to bring people together and bring solutions to the table.
"That's how we can advance the city, the state and the nation. So, I'm confident that I can bring bipartisanship as a problem solver if opportunity is given."
Unless other notable Democrats get in the race, Kang would likely face Rohrabacher or Campbell, either of whom could become the GOP nominee. Irvine Councilwoman Beth Krom, a Democrat, challenged Campbell last year but lost.
"America is a great country," Kang said. "Only in America it is possible for a person like myself to be able to serve with honor and dignity and become a proud member of Congress. The opportunities this country has given to people who aspire to succeed [are] enormous, so I'm grateful for this opportunity. I'm a proud American. I want to serve the country well."
Kang would focus on local and national issues such as safety, jobs and education, all of which have been priorities for the former Circuit City Store employee who joined the Irvine council in 2004, he said.
His years in customer service equipped him with the patience and negotiating skills needed to "work both sides of the aisle," he said.
As an example of these skills, Kang pointed to a funding-swap agreement with the Orange County Transportation Authority, which will fund the city's iShuttle program for 30 years without touching the city's general fund.
"I'm more of a consensus-building person," Kang said. "I'm very patient and I listen to others. The end result is getting the job done and that's what I can bring to table in Congress."