Congresswoman-elect Michelle Steel (R-CA), who managed to flip a blue Congressional seat to the Republican Party in the 2020 election, told Fox News this week that she won by sticking to the issues and believes the coalition of Republican voters is growing.
“The Republican Party is growing. You know, me, with my accent, I still won and people actually, when we stick to the issues, and we just try to work with residents and work for residents, I think we’re going to keep winning,” remarked the congresswoman-elect.
Steel, 65, who speaks English as a third language, was born in South Korea and raised in Japan. During the interview, she shared that she first decided to run for public office after her mother, a small business owner, was “harassed” by a state tax agency (for what she has previously described as an “unwarranted” tax bill).
“That’s the way I started. This is my fifth election. I won all five,” Steel told Fox News. “You know what? I stand for American Dream.”
According to The New York Times election tracker, Steel managed to beat incumbent Congressman Harley Rouda (D-CA) by about two points in an Orange County district that Rouda himself flipped blue in the 2018 midterm elections.
Steel is the second person to flip a blue California district to the Republican Party this year, following on the success of Congressman Mike Garcia (R-CA), who won the May 2020 special election for the seat previously held by Congresswoman Katie Hill (D-CA). Prior to Garcia’s victory, California hadn’t flipped a blue seat red since 1998.
The November race for Garcia’s seat, however, has not yet been called, and he currently leads Democrat Christy Smith, who lost back in May, by only 219 votes (in an election where, thus far, over 330,000 votes have been reported).
Although still more House races have yet to be called, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has celebrated the gains made by Republicans in the House this year — a time when Democrats believed they were positioned to gain seats, not lose them.
“We have never been stronger in the sense of what the future holds for us — we have never been in a stronger position,” McCarthy told The Washington Post. “We won this by adding more people to the party. And we won this in an atmosphere where we were the one group that everyone guaranteed we would lose. And we’re the ones who won.”
As the chair of the Orange County board of supervisors, Steel has been a critic of government overreach amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
After California Governor Gavin Newsom directed beaches in Orange County to close, she criticized him for not trusting people to embrace “personal responsibility.”
“I trust our Orange County residents to make good choices – wearing face masks, staying six feet apart, and staying home when they don’t feel well. We have here an opportunity to embrace personal responsibility while also taking care of our neighbors. Governor Newsom clearly doesn’t share that faith, and I will be looking into an appropriate response to the Governor’s overreaction and abuse of power,” she said.