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Rep. Young Kim, R-Calif., hosts a human trafficking task force at her Orange County office in Placentia, Calif., on March 21, 2022.
Rep. Young Kim, R-Calif., hosts a human trafficking task force at her Orange County office in Placentia, Calif., on March 21, 2022.Leonard Ortiz / Orange County Register via Getty Images file

California’s Rep. Kim spending big to edge out GOP rival in next week’s primary

Kim's campaign has seen the most ad spending of any House race in California


There's just one week to go before California's primary, and the race for Republican Rep. Young Kim's seat is seeing a last-minute flood of money.

Who is spending? Kim's race is the most expensive House race in the state right now — through primary day, AdImpact has tracked $2.4 million in spending in the race, about as much as the next three most expensive California House races combined.

The congresswoman's campaign has booked and spent almost $1.4 million, with $475,000 of that slated to come in the final week.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC aligned with GOP House leadership, is helping her out too, having booked and spent $650,000 in ads.

Why has it become so costly? Both Kim and CLF are taking aim at former Mission Viejo City Councilman Greg Raths, a Republican. partly in the hopes of ensuring Republicans don’t split the vote and jeopardize Kim’s re-election.

One recent spot from Kim accuses Raths of raising taxes “just like Biden and the liberals,” and another from CLF calls Raths “liberal” and Young Kim “the conservative choice.” And the leading Democrat in the race, Asif Mahmood, is running an ad calling Raths too conservative on abortion — an ad his campaign says is about the general election but could also serve to elevate Raths with GOP voters.

Kim won a tough 2020 race in part by touting her moderate credentials in a seat that President Biden ultimately carried by 10 points.

Kim currently represents the state's 39th District but after redistricting is now running in in the 40th District, which means she has to introduce herself to many new voters. As the LA Times points out, her new seat is now more conservative, possibly leading to the push to shore up her right flank.

These strategies have an increased salience because of how California runs its primaries — regardless of party, all candidates run on the same primary ballot and the top two candidates move onto a general election. That raises the stakes when candidates of the same party threatening to split the vote.