Republican Michelle Steel defeated first-term Democrat incumbent Rep. Harley Rouda for California’s 48th District seat on Tuesday, marking only the second time in more than two decades that a Republican has unseated a sitting Democrat in the state.
“This victory has been hard-fought and hard-won, and I could not be more humbled to have your support nor more honored to serve our community in Congress. Now, let’s get to work,” Steel tweeted Tuesday.
This victory has been hard-fought and hard-won, and I could not be more humbled to have your support nor more honored to serve our community in Congress. Now, let’s get to work. #CA48 pic.twitter.com/5aVvsvABiw
— Michelle Steel (@MichelleSteelCA) November 10, 2020
Her opponent conceded on Tuesday.
“We did not win this election,” Rouda said in a statement Tuesday. “And while it isn’t the outcome we had hoped for, it’s never been more important for our leaders to hear the voice of the people, and to accept their judgment. I do.”
Thanks to the incredible energy brought by our thousands of grassroots volunteers, I was proud to be the first Democrat ever to represent #CA48.
Serving the people here has been the honor of my life. https://t.co/up1YVZTnuU
— Harley Rouda (@HarleyRouda) November 10, 2020
“But I also believe there’s something bigger at stake here than this one election. There is a toxicity to American politics threatening the very democracy that sets us apart from the rest of the world. That has to change,” he added. (RELATED: Californians Vote Down Proposition That Would Reinstate Affirmative Action)
Steel took back the seat from Rouda, who defeated longtime Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher back in 2018, according to the Associated Press (AP). The district had been Republican for more than 20 years before Rouda won.
Steel won roughly 51% of the district votes, while Republican President Donald Trump only won 33% of California votes. Steel’s ads against Rouda focused largely on claims that Rouda would raise taxes. Rouda portrayed Steel as corrupt, per the AP.
“My opponent made allegations about me that were complete fabrications – some totally made up, others wild distortions, and still others torn from the darkest corners of the Internet,” Rouda reportedly said.
One of the first Korean congresswomen, Steel heads the Orange County board of supervisors and is married to Republican National Committeeman Shawn Steel, according to the same report.
Rouda appears to be preparing another run in 2022, noting in his concession statement that he can’t wait for voters to “compare my opponent’s two years in Congress with my accomplishments on November 8, 2022.”