Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang announced Wednesday he intends to become just the second Korean American to hold a seat in Congress, according to the Voice of OC.
Kang, a Democrat, will likely be running against Republican incumbent John Campbell in the 2012 election. The California Citizens Redistricting Commission is still drawing the boundaries of the new district that will include at least parts of Irvine.
Kang was elected mayor of Irvine in 2008, making him the first Korean-American mayor of a city with a population more than 100,000. He was reelected last year in a landslide vote.
The Orange County Register said the race for congressman for the redrawn district will likely be the “most competitive race in years” in the Republican-dominated coastal Orange County area.
The first-generation Korean immigrant might benefit from Irvine’s burgeoning population of Asian-Americans, who make up about 40 percent of city residents.
But given the demographics of the area, incumbent Campbell would be a tough opponent to beat, The Voice of OC reported.
Campbell was first elected in 2005, and last year while hardly campaigning, he trounced Irvine Councilwoman Beth Krom, a Democrat.
Kang said he would run on fairly commonplace issues: the economy, public education, Medicare and military veterans issues.
“It’s not going to be an easy election,” Kang told the OC Register. “But when I first ran for City Council seven years ago, nobody believed I was going to win.”
Jay Kim is the only Korean American to have held a seat in Congress, serving from 1993 to 1999 for District 41 in San Bernadino County, California.