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    In CA-45 race, Rep. Michelle Steel and Derek Tran will face off in November
    • March 25, 2024

    Republican Rep. Michelle Steel and Democrat Derek Tran appear poised to advance to the general election for California’s 45th congressional district race — a contest closely watched by both parties this year.

    While Steel has consistently led the pack since the March 5 primary, the race was extremely close for the second-place spot. As of Monday morning in Orange and Los Angeles counties — both served by CA-45 — 366 votes separated Tran and Democrat Kim Nguyen-Penaloza, a Garden Grove councilmember who conceded over the weekend.

    “It’s time to call it. Unfortunately, I did not win my bid for CA-45,” Nguyen-Penaloza said in a post on X (formerly Twitter). “When I made the decision to run in January 2023, I really thought I could do it. … I felt in my heart I could be the representative we deserve. Someone who walks in our shoes, understands our struggles and who will fight so we can live out our American dream.”

    See the latest election results.

    Tran, in his own statement on X, thanked Nguyen-Penaloza and said he is honored to be the Democratic nominee for CA-45. A first-time candidate, Tran has said he plans to address the gun violence epidemic, advocate for women’s rights and fight the effects of climate change.

    “In the Army, I swore an oath to serve this country, and in November we will defeat corrupt Michelle Steel and provide true representation to the people of CA-45,” he said.

    On Monday, Steel thanked her supporters in an emailed statement.

    “Southern California families deserve and need someone in Washington who won’t raise their taxes and who will always fight to lower them,” said Steel. “I support lower taxes, more freedom, less spending, an America that challenges the Chinese Communist Party and a secure border.”

    “My English may be broken, but my voice is loud and positions clear,” she said.

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    The race for CA-45 attracted several candidates, including Democrats Aditya Pai, an affordable housing attorney, and Cheyenne Hunt, a policy advocate. Both have since conceded.

    CA-45 is one of several Republican-held House districts that went for President Joe Biden in 2020 and where registered Democrats in the district outnumber registered Republicans. As of Feb. 20, according to data from the secretary of state’s office, the district includes 36.9% registered Democrats, 33.3% Republicans and 23.8% no party preference.

    In November, more than 752,000 people in the district, home to the largest Vietnamese enclave outside of Vietnam, will get to choose who represents them in Congress for the next two years: a Republican of Korean descent or a Democrat with Vietnamese roots.

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    Steel, first elected in 2020, became one of the first Korean American women to serve in Congress along with fellow Republican Rep. Young Kim and Democratic Rep. Marilyn Strickland of Washington.

    Tran is the son of Vietnamese refugees who fled communist Vietnam by boat in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, arriving in Southern California.

    Ballot counting is still ongoing, and county elections officials have until April 2 to report final results to the secretary of state, who will certify results on April 12.

    The OC Registrar of Voters certified its primary results on Friday, March 22. The LA Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk said all outstanding ballots left to be processed in Los Angeles County are pending signature cures from voters who did not sign their return envelopes or had signatures that did not match their registration record. LA results are scheduled to be certified on Friday, March 29.

    ​ Orange County Register