C(API)TOL CORRESPONDENT: AAPIs make historic gains on Election Day


Editor’s Note: A version of this column was originally posted on Bill Wong’s blog, http://thesunfire.blogspot.com.

It was a historic day for Asian American Pacific Islanders throughout the nation. In California, the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus held their position as the second largest ethnic caucus in the state legislature, with 11 members, by winning four seats — Rob Bonta (Assembly District 18), Phil Ting (AD 19), Ed Chau (AD 49) and Al Muratsuchi (AD 66). Previously, AAPIs only held two of these seats. The API Caucus lost one targeted race in AD 20 with Dr. Jennifer Ong, who was new to campaigning, but has a bright political future.

The Asian American Small Business PAC spent in excess of $100,000 in direct donations and independent expenditures (IE) this cycle to support many of the candidates that won. AASB PAC sponsored IEs in support of Bonta, Ting, Ong, Chau, Muratsuchi and state Assemblyman Paul Fong. The only race AASB PAC lost was in AD 20 with Dr. Jennifer Ong. Ron Wong at Imprenta Communications and Chris Norem Consulting provided mail and consulting for these races.

Special notes: San Francisco Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting weathered a $500,000-plus negative campaign onslaught from the wealthy Stanford legacy alum and Goldman Sachs scion of a U.S. Supreme Court justice (Stephen Breyer) Michael Breyer to hold onto San Francisco’s AAPI legislative seat. Progressive AAPIs, environmentalists and animal advocates rallied behind Assemblyman Paul Fong when shark fin industry special interests launched a late attack on him for authoring the bill to ban shark fin in California. Lastly, Democrat Ed Chau fought off Republican millionaire and a million dollar attack campaign by JOBSPAC with nearly $100,000 from oil companies to hold the only majority AAPI legislative seat in California.

Big gains were made on the federal level with historic wins in Hawai‘i, California and New York. U.S. Representative Mazie Hirono will now be U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono — the first Asian American woman to serve in the United States Senate. Tulsi Gabbard, who will be the first Hindu (she’s Pacific Islander) will replace Hirono in the House of Representatives. Mark Takano will be the first LGBT AAPI to serve in Congress from Riverside, Calif. and Grace Meng will be the first Chinese American woman to represent New York in Congress.

Decorated war hero Tammy Duckworth won a congressional seat in Illinois. The contest between Democrat Dr. Ami Bera and Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Lungren in Sacramento, California is currently too close to call. In the latest vote count, Bera increased his lead to more than 3,800 votes from a few hundred on election day. Final results are still pending.

Republican Ricky Gill’s hard fought race in California’s Central Valley to unseat Rep. Jerry McNerney was unsuccessful. Democratic AAPI candidates Nate Shinagawa (NY), Jay Chen (CA), Sukhee Kang (CA), Otto Lee (CA), and Manan Trivedi (PA) were also unsuccessful.

Some of the returning AAPI members of Congress include: U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye and U.S. Representatives Judy Chu (CA), Doris Matsui (CA), Mike Honda (CA), Bobby Scott (VA), Eni Faleomavaega (American Samoa), Gregorio Sablan (Northern Marianas) and Colleen Hanabusa (HI).

According to CNN exit polls, AAPIs broke 73-26 in favor of re-electing President Barack Obama. AAPIs also played a key role in Obama’s victories in the battleground states of Virginia and Nevada. A big victory for Obama’s National AAPI Vote Director Alissa Ko, a rising political star in Democratic Party politics.

Bill Wong is a political and strategic consultant with more than 20 years of legislative and campaign experience. He advises candidates, political action committees and major corporations. He can be reached at Bill@billwong.net. The views expressed in the preceding column are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei Weekly.

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