California Democratic House challenger raises surprising $1.4 million

A California Democrat running against GOP Rep. Young Kim in a newly created district is due to announce a surprising $1.4 million fundraising haul in the first quarter of 2022, as Democrats generally struggle to court donors.

Asif Mahmood, a Pakistan-born doctor who jumped into the race in January, has since scored top endorsements and cleared the field as the only Democrat running in the district’s primary.

Mahmood’s $1.4 million haul in his first quarter of fundraising means donors are willing to bet on him as a competitive candidate as Kim fights off a primary challenger from the right.

Still, Kim’s last reported haul of $1.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2021 — and a year ending $2.5 million cash-in-hand treasure chest — shows the California race could become one of the most competitive and expensive in 2022.

Kim’s fundraising figure for the first quarter of 2022 is not yet available, but her quarterly fundraising record is $1.23 million in the second quarter of 2020.

Overall, Kim raised $6.42 million in 2020, when she unseated former Democratic Rep. Gil Cisneros.

While Mahmood can set his sights on the general election, Kim must first campaign against two Republican challengers ahead of the June primary election.

Because of California’s election laws, Mahmood and Kim will compete in the same primary against a pool of candidates and the top two, regardless of party, will advance to the general election.

As a competitive district, the primary is likely to yield a Democrat, Mahmood, and a Republican, most likely Kim.

Still, she is competing against Greg Raths, a former Marine colonel who has been courted by operators in former President Trump’s political orbit and who narrowly lost a House seat in 2020 against Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.).

The new eastern Orange County district is rated as competitive by the Cook Political Report, but it also sees it as a likely Republican hold.

But Democrats are increasingly eyeing the few districts nationwide where they’re able to go on the offensive, as the number of competitive districts has shrunk because of the redistricting process.

Democrats can only afford a handful of losses this fall if they are to hold their House majority. Doing so is expected to be difficult, since the House party of a first-term president typically loses seats in the midterm elections and President Biden’s approval ratings are mired in the low 40s.

California’s redistricting process left the state with only two truly competitive districts, according to political statistics site 538: the 40th, where Kim is running as an incumbent, and the neighboring 45th, a toss-up seat where Rep. Michelle Steel (R) is the incumbent.

Tags 2022 midterms Asif Mahmood California Gil Cisneros Michelle Steel Trump Young Kim Young Kim

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