“Even though we’re going through a turbulent time, I’m confident that we will get through this and become stronger than ever. ”

Valadao and Kim Underscore Need for a United and Diverse GOP

WASHINGTON, DC — The Ripon Society hosted a virtual meeting this past Thursday with two California lawmakers who flipped House seats held by Democrats in 2020, making gains in a state where Republicans have faced stiff headwinds in recent years. 

Those two lawmakers were U.S. Reps. David Valadao (CA-21) and Young Kim (CA-39). Valadao, who previously served in the House from 2013 to 2019, kicked things off by touching on his campaign for Congress last year and the issues that matter the most to his constituents in California’s Central Valley.

“I’ve always had tough elections and this one was no different,” Valadao stated. “I spend a lot of time talking about things like water policy, which is very important to our agriculture and especially our underserved communities that don’t have access to clean water. I also spend a lot of time talking about things like immigration. Immigration is very important to us on a lot of different fronts. Obviously DACA Dreamers, making sure kids that came here at no fault of their own have an opportunity to be successful. But also making sure that we have a guest worker program that works for our agriculture industry in the district.

“And then just common sense policy in general is important to them — making sure that government is working for our industries, making sure that the programs that are created to help those who need it most are actually functioning properly.”

Valadao then introduced his new colleague, Young Kim. She is a South Korean immigrant who put herself through college at USC, started her own business, and served in the California State Assembly before running for Congress.

“I think Young Kim’s going to be a great Member. She is someone who brings a lot of experience from her time working with local elected officials, working with former Members of Congress, and she is a person who has a great life story to tell.”

“Being elected to the House of Representatives to serve the community that I love is really an honor and a privilege of a lifetime for me,” Kim explained. “I ran for office because my parents instilled in me the need to give back for the great gifts and the opportunities that were given to us as immigrants to America.”

As Kim begins her first term serving in Washington, she says that there is plenty of opportunity to get things done despite heightened partisan tension.

“Even though we’re going through a turbulent time, I’m confident that we will get through this and become stronger than ever. I am focused on working with the Biden Administration to determine where we can find commonality. I want to work across the aisle to achieve results where we can. That means we first need to work in a bipartisan way on getting the targeted relief for businesses, families, and communities, as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.”

After their opening remarks, the two guest panelists took a number of questions beginning with the prospect of addressing DACA and the hundreds of thousands of Dreamers in the country. Valadao fielded the question first.

“I think there’s enough bipartisan support for action on DACA and I think the President has been pretty open about it. And I hope that there is an opportunity to move on further immigration reform. I know the President talks about it quite a bit, and I know it’s a priority for him. The problem with immigration in general is it’s such a complicated topic and you get into so many different areas regarding businesses, communities, and making sure that we protect American workers. Once we get beyond the Dreamers, it gets a little bit tougher.”

Kim agreed, emphasizing the need for a bipartisan approach to immigration reform.

“The Dreamers need to be addressed as soon as possible. Many are adults by now and they made their lives here. Many have started their own businesses and have become job creators and are an important part of our community. Immigration, I believe, needs to be bipartisan, with Republicans and Democrats agreeing on an approach.

“I’m one of those who has sent a letter to President Biden, offering a sincere desire to work across the aisle and find common ground. We need to be fair to those who want to come the legal way and we also need to be compassionate with people like the Dreamers. But, with this in mind, we also need to commit to securing our border and points of entry so we can stop the illegal immigration issues we have seen for decades.”

Next, Kim was asked about the record number of Republican women elected to Congress last year and the GOP’s outreach to women going forward.

“This election showed that our Party is ready to support candidates that look like their district that talk like their district,” Kim said. “This shows that our Republican Party is the Grand Opportunity Party. I always say that because it’s a Party that has given someone like me an opportunity to be a part of the conversation and talk about issues that are important for women.

“I hope our stories can be an example to encourage other women, minorities, veterans, and especially young girls to know that they too have a voice and they too can serve their country.”

The conversation then shifted to the GOP performance in the Golden State, and what it takes for a Republican candidate to be competitive.

“I had several ads in my district featuring Democrats,” Valadao said of his campaign, “they explained that they were supporting me because of my work across the aisle, about me being a person that’s easy to work with.

“I think that helps us when we walk into our jobs as Members of Congress, especially when you’re in the minority, when you campaign on the fact that you’re willing to work across the aisle and you’re willing to work on tough issues that your party probably is not as supportive on. There are policies that I campaigned on that most Republicans don’t campaign on. Things like immigration reform and Dreamers.”

Finally, the two were asked to discuss last month’s events at the U.S. Capitol and the media’s ongoing coverage of the Republican Party’s future.

“This is one that we’re really going to struggle with moving forward,” Valadao stated. “Obviously, I’m one of the ones that voted for impeachment and it was a tough vote one way or the other. And it’s one that is going to be very divisive within my Party.

“Being one of the ten Republicans who voted that way, I get invited by CNN on a daily basis now. I’ve been invited to be on nearly every single national program. But I’ve made a conscious effort to stay away from some of the national spotlight, because I don’t want to be the guy that’s bashing my party. I don’t believe that helps us rebuild after what happened last month.

“My focus for being successful after January 6th is trying to build Party unity and remind constituents who I am and how I came to my decision. They’ve known me for the last, at least six years in Congress and two years in the state legislature before that. And those who have known me even longer know who I am. I just have to remind them that I don’t do things because they’re politically expedient, I do things because I believe they’re the right thing to do — and I’ll stand by that.”

Kim answered next.

“January was very, very tough,” she said. “There were tough votes that were unrelated to bringing relief to families through COVID and so forth. That’s what my constituents sent me to Washington for. I approved of the certification in the Electoral College because that was my duty, I thought, outlined by the constitution.”

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.