Republican Rep. Michelle Steel of California has won re-election, defeating Democratic challenger Jay Chen in the state’s 45th congressional district. The Associated Press called the race Monday at 11 p.m. ET.
Steel, a first-generation Korean-American, prevailed in a newly drawn district that includes Orange County and areas southeast of Los Angeles where there is a large Asian American population. The race was predicted to be a slim Republican, and her win was crucial for the party to regain control of the House of Representatives.
“I am honored to continue to fight for this fellowship in Congress. Thank you #CA45 voters for putting their trust in me,” Steel tweeted Monday after the race was called.
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With GOP Rep. Ken Calvert’s re-election victory in the contested race for California’s 41st congressional district, Republicans are one race away from winning the 218 seats needed to put Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, in control to snatch the House of Representatives.
Republicans are currently expected to hold 217 seats in the House of Representatives, and there are 13 seats remaining that will determine the balance of power in the House of Representatives. Ten of those races are held in California, where state law allows mail-in ballots to be returned up to seven days after the election, provided they are postmarked by Election Day. The deadline for receiving absentee ballots in California is today, November 15.
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The race in the 45th district was heated and at times ended in personal attacks. Democratic candidate Chen, a reservist in the Taiwanese American Navy, accused Steel of taking extreme positions on abortion. He provoked controversy and drew heavy backlash for mocking Steel’s accent and telling followers that an “interpreter” was needed to understand her and that “she only relies on Republican talking points fed by her husband.” “.
Steel responded that Chen’s comments were “racist” and portrayed him as a communist sympathizer on the campaign trail. Chen countered that his grandmother fled China to escape communist tyranny.
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On these issues, Steel generally voted with the majority of Republicans in Congress. She has campaigned for tax cuts and improving the small business economy, as well as for securing the southern border.
Chen has worked to reduce healthcare costs and increase spending on infrastructure, as well as defending abortion rights and expanding government funding for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.