Former Assemblymember Steven Choi hopes his departure from the state legislature is not a long one.

Choi is running for state Senate in 2024, seeking to represent a district that includes Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Irvine, and Laguna Woods, among other communities.

Choi’s announcement is the continuing ripple effect from U.S. Rep. Katie Porter’s announcement earlier this year that she is running for U.S. Senate. State Sen. Dave Min, once Porter’s political foe, launched a bid for her 47th congressional district seat, and Choi is now hoping to take Min’s spot in the legislature.

A Republican, Choi was unseated this past election cycle after redistricting, a once-every-decade process that changes district boundary lines based on updated U.S. Census data, moved his seat into an area more favorable for Democrats. It was the only Assembly race in Orange County that pitted two incumbents against each other during the 2022 midterms, and Choi lost to Democratic Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris.

Choi said his former Assembly seat overlaps with much of the 37th Senate district and said the voter registration is more favorable.

“I will continue to work hard to represent this Senate district that I already know well,” Choi said. “My legislative priorities include economic recovery, inflation control, safe community and reducing homelessness, among others.

“As a former legislator, I am already familiar with the legislative process and plan to hit the ground on the first day to take actions,” he added.

Redistricting will impact this seat, as well.

Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, is also running for SD-37 after redistricting squeezed him into this area.

Newman describes himself as a “centrist pragmatic guy.” He said he’s got a “pretty decent record at this point of service and votes” and he tries to embody the type of representative he would support.

He knows this 37th Senate district is different from the area he currently represents, but said he views the election as a job interview, of sorts. Newman first won his seat in 2016, but was recalled in 2018 after he voted to raise the gas tax to help fund transportation projects. He retook the seat in 2020.

Choi, a former Irvine mayor, has described his political philosophy as a belief in “making government more effective, accountable and transparent.”

Choi was born in South Korea and served as a 2nd lieutenant in the South Korean Army before he immigrated to the U.S., working as a language instructor for the State Department in Hawaii. He’s worked at various colleges and universities, including teaching Korean at UC Irvine and working as a librarian at Henderson State University in Arkansas.

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