Another big Orange County political story to come out of Election Night was Republican Young Kim being the top vote-getter in AD65, finishing 9.6% ahead of first-term incumbent Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva, a Democrat:
Yes, all the caveats apply: voter turnout in November will be significantly higher than it was on Tuesday, and there should be more Democratic votes in the mix. But it is never good for an incumbent to be beaten like that by a challenger. Keep in mind that then-Assemblyman Chris Norby beat Quirk-Silva by 17 points in June 2012 before going on to lose by four points in November. Here, incumbent lost the primary by almost 10 points, Furthermore, Young Kim doesn’t present the target-rich profile that Norby did – she’s a fresh, energetic face who can tap into new voter demographics in way other Republican candidates haven’t.
AD65 is 37.2% Democrat and 35.4% Republican. Since voters who are neither Dems nor Reeps had only these two candidates from which to choose, it’s no surprise they beat registration for their respective parties – but Kim beat hers by nearly 20 points, compared to 8 points for Quirk-Silva.
Both candidates were in approximately the same ballpark in terms of fundraising, and IEs will play a big part in the November election. Neither side will lack resources to communicate their respective messages.
The bottom line is Quirk-Silva is not where any incumbent in a competitive seat wants to be: facing a hard-working, energetic challenger who is a prodigious fundraiser and breaks the traditional GOP candidate mold – and in a mid-term election that will be unfriendly for Democrats.