Christian Nationalist-Backed Republican Young Kim Tries Again for California Congressional Seat

Young Kim, Republican candidate in California's 39th congressional district. (Photo from Kim for Congress website.)

Young Kim, an unsuccessful congressional candidate who ran last year with the support of Christian nationalist political operative David Lane, is raising money for another shot at a spot in the U.S House of Representatives.

California’s 39th congressional district was among those that flipped from Republican to Democratic control in the 2018 midterm elections. In that race, Young Kim was defeated in her attempt to replace retiring GOP Rep. Ed Royce, for whom she had previously worked. Kim appeared to be narrowly leading on election night, but her apparent lead dwindled and disappeared as early and absentee ballots were counted. Democrat Gil Cisneros now represents the district. Kim announced this month that she was named an “On the Radar” candidate for 2020 by the National Republican Congressional Committee; in July, she said that she had raised over $400,000 in less than two months in the second quarter.

At her 2018 election night party, Kim publicly thanked Christian nationalist political operative David Lane, who she called one of her “prayer warriors.” She told her supporters that she thought God would help her pull out the victory. “I think that’s going to make a difference, God has a way of working in this election cycle, and he has really paved the way,” Kim said, according to the Daily Titan. “Our campaign has the momentum, and we’re going to win it. I just feel it.”

In a fundraising email sent by Young Kim for Congress on Sunday night, Kim wrote:

The Democrats have made it clear — they are trying to CLEAR OUT CALIFORNIA REPUBLICANS. We need to take action now, before it’s too late and there aren’t any conservatives left to fight the good fight in our great state.

We cannot allow the radical Left to continue to raise taxes and neglect the economy in favor of over-spending YOUR tax dollars on issues that are not crucial to California’s well-being. We must push back in order to protect California and get the economy back on track. … Will you join the fight to take back California from socialist San Francisco liberals?

Like her campaign website, Kim’s email doesn’t emphasize the Religious Right’s culture-war priorities, but as we noted last year, Religious Right groups and their voter guides made sure to highlight Kim’s opposition to abortion rights. On LGBTQ issues she had 40 and 50percent ratings from Equality California for her state assembly votes in 2015 and 2016.

Kim’s fundraising email was sent as a sponsored Daily Wire action alert. The address at the end of the email—a post office box in Cisco, Texas—has also been used by members of the fracking billionaire Wilks family, which funded the launch of the right-wing Daily Wire media operation and has given heavily to David Lane’s political work. Last year, Dallas News commentators noted that Cisco—the Wilks’s hometown—had become ground zero for attempts by the billionaire brothers and their political allies to push the Texas GOP even further to the right. Last year, Dan Wilks bought and renovated a YMCA building for use by the church Lane attends, whose pastor Rob McCoy is currently the mayor of Thousand Oaks, California.

Lane and his allies worked hard to mobilize conservative evangelical pastors in southern California last year. In August 2018, Kim posted a picture of herself with Jack Hibbs, whose Calvary Chapel Chino Hills congregation later hosted an “Engage California” conference the weekend before the election, at which Hibbs told attendees that California is “worth fighting for” and said evangelical voters had a chance on Election Day to create “an earthquake of righteousness.”

Of course, that’s not how it worked out in 2018, as Kim and other Orange County Republicans went down in defeat and Democrats won statewide races and super-majorities in both houses of the state legislature. Afterward, Lane complained about evangelicals who hadn’t bothered to vote, and warned that evangelical pastors would have to take their organizing game “to the next level if America is to survive.”

Lane teaches that the United States has a covenant with God tracing back to the Mayflower pilgrims and has a national mission of advancing the Christian faith. He has called the separation of church and state a “lie” and a “fabricated whopper” to prevent “Christian America” from “imposing moral government on pagan public schools, pagan higher learning and pagan media.” For more than two decades, Lane and his American Renewal Project have been organizing events and prayer rallies to connect conservative political candidates with evangelical pastors, and to encourage pastors to preach politics more aggressively and turn their churches into voter turnout operations. In recent years, he has been encouraging and training pastors themselves to run for office. Then-candidate Donald Trump attended one of Lane’s events in Orlando, Florida a few months before the 2016 election.