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Rep. Andy Kim wins Democratic Senate nomination in New Jersey primary

June 5, 2024 - 09:43 By Yonhap

Rep. Andy Kim greets supporters outside the Bergen County Democratic convention in Paramus, N.J., March 4, 2024, in this file photo. (AP-Yonhap)

WASHINGTON -- A Korean American lawmaker won the Democratic Party's nomination for New Jersey's Senate seat in a primary Tuesday, reports said, as he has vowed to play a role as a "bridge" between South Korea and the United States and cement the bilateral alliance.

Rep. Andy Kim, a third-term, 41-year-old congressman, bested two long-shot rivals to become his party's standard-bearer for the Nov. 5 election, according to The New York Times. If elected, Kim would become the first Korean American elected to the upper chamber of Congress.

Kim has been leading a powerful Senate campaign as incumbent Sen. Bob Menendez has been mired in a high-profile corruption trial with his once archrival, New Jersey's first lady, Tammy Murphy, having exited the race in March.

On Monday, Menendez filed to run as an independent, a move that observers said could affect the vote tally for the Democratic nominee, though the Garden State has not elected a Republican as its senator since 1972.

In response to the move, Kim said that he is "stepping up to restore integrity back to the Senate."

"People are fed up with politicians putting their own personal benefit ahead of what's right for the country," he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Growing voter support for Kim has been based much on his pledge to represent a "politics of integrity and public service."

His commitment to public service was on full display when he was seen picking up trash strewn across the US Capitol when the center of America's democracy came under attack by rioters in January 2021.

During an interview with Yonhap News Agency last month, Kim expressed his hope that he can be a "bridge" between South Korea and the US, and ensure Washington can "prioritize" Korea at a "needed" level.

He also pledged to do "everything" to prevent former President Donald Trump from taking any "drastic" actions, including withdrawing American troops in South Korea, should Trump return to the White House for a second term.

In addition, he underlined his sense of responsibility to "lift up the voice, hopes and concerns" of the Korean American community.

Kim boasts a prominent foreign policy career, having served at the White House National Security Council, the Pentagon, the State Department, the US Agency for International Development, and as a civilian adviser to Gen. David Petraeus and Gen. John Allen in Afghanistan.

He was born in Boston in 1982 to a family of South Korean immigrant parents -- his father being a medical researcher and his mother a nurse.

In 2004, Kim earned a political science degree from the University of Chicago. He was later awarded a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship and a Harry S. Truman Scholarship, which led him to earn a master's degree and a doctorate in international relations from the University of Oxford. (Yonhap)