Some 150 Americans of Asian cultures won impressive victories in the November 6 midterm elections at the federal, state and local levels – even making history along the way.
In the national races, Asian American lawmakers in the U.S. Congress handily won reelection, helping the Democratic Party retake the House of Representatives. Representatives Judy Chu, Ted Lieu, Doris Matsui, Ami Bera, Ro Khanna, and Mark Takano, all Democrats in California, posted victories.
Other Democrats who cruised to reelection in the U.S. Congress were Representatives Bobby Cortez Scott (Virginia), Grace Meng (New York), Stephanie Murphy, a member of the Executive Board of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus or CAPAC, (Florida), Pramila Jayapal (Washington), Raja Krishnamoorthi (Illinois), and Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii).
Andy Kim (D) made history as New Jersey’s first Asian American Congressman in winning the tightly-contested race. In California’s 45th district, in another close race, CNN/CBSLA reported on November 16 that rising star Young Kim (R), who has led the vote tally since Election Night, has been overtaken by former Navy officer Gil Cisneros (D). Cisneros was leading by a mere1,000 votes, but the remaining votes are in Latino counties, which could favor Cisneros.
Kim would be the first Korean American woman to become a member of the U.S. Congress if elected. She is running for the seat left open by Ed Royce, who retired rather than run for reelection. She is a former staffer of Royce, who endorsed her candidacy.
In Hawaii, seasoned U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono (D) easily won reelection.
When the 116th U.S. Congress opens on January 3 next year, the nation will see a divided government in the legislative branch, and factor in the executive branch. Democrats will take control of the 435-member House of Representatives. Needing only 23 seats to retake the House, the Democrats are poised to win 39 seats.
The Republicans, who easily prevailed in the contest for the 100-seat Senate, also expanded their majority by two seats, probably three. The final tallies for both chambers are still up in the air. At press time, some races are still too close to call, or are subject to runoff or recount.
Political experts are already predicting gridlock in passing legislation. Mix in the 2020 presidential elections, and it gets more complicated. However, hope springs eternal, and there are the usual calls for both parties to work together in Congress, quite probably on infrastructure legislation.
Asian Americans Made History
“This election, Asian Americans made history,” the Democratic National Committee posted on its website on November 15. The Asian American Action Fund (AAAFund), an American Democratic political action committee, ran this posting in its website, elated over the first-ever winning candidates and others who triumphed in the midterm elections.
AAAFund congratulated all its endorsees who ran for office last November 6, and noted significant wins, including Andy Kim as New Jersey’s first Asian American Congressman.
Remarked AAAFund Endorsements Co-Chair Irene Bueno: “The Asian American Action Fund board is incredibly proud of Andy Kim and the incoming elected officials, and we look forward to them representing our community well on issues including education, health care, the economy, and immigration. Their lived experiences add so much value to crafting policy and decision-making.”
Founded in 1999, AAAFund’s goal is “to increase the voice of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) in every level of local, state and federal government in the U. S.”
The AAAFund congratulated other candidates who made history. Two immigrants became the first Asian Americans elected to New York State Senate. They are former New York City Comptroller John Liu (D), born in Taiwan, and Indian American attorney Kevin Thomas, who immigrated to the U.S. when he was 10 years old, beat out Republican incumbent Kemp Hannon. In Connecticut, William Tong became the first Asian American to win a statewide office with his election as Attorney General.
Kentucky elected its first Indian American as state representative. Democrat Nima Kulkarni is an attorney and community activist who wants “to protect public education and fight for better healthcare.”
In other news, Lily Qi made history as “the first Chinese-born state legislator in Maryland” in her first foray in politics. She will represent District 15 in the General Assembly. Delegate-elect Qi joins a stellar group of other Asian American lawmakers: Kumar Barve, Mark Chang, Susan Lee, Kris Valderrama, Clarence Lam, Jay Jalisi and David Moon.
Madalene Mielke, Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) President & CEO, congratulated “the Vietnamese American community, which has built strong representation in Southern California, Washington, and across the nation.”
CALIFORNIA: Xavier Nguyen, Westminster School District board; Khanh Nguyen, incumbent re-elected to Westminster School District board; Janet Nguyen, a California state senator 34th District was re-elected; Tyler Diep, vice mayor of Westminster elected to the 72nd Assembly district;
Michael Vo, Fountain Valley mayor who was re-elected to the City Council; Phat Bui, an incumbent re-elected to the Garden Grove City Council; Thu-Ha Nguyen, incumbent re-elected to the Garden Grove City Council; Lan Quoc Nguyen, Garden Grove school board member; Dina Nguyen, a former Garden Grove council member re-elected to the Orange County Water District, and Andrew Nguyen, a former Westminster School District board member elected to the Midway City Sanitary District board
WASHINGTON: Joe Nguyen, elected to State Senate, WA34 and My-Linh Thai, elected as state representative in the 41st legislative district
Hmong Candidates Elected to Office
APAICS expressed “special congratulations to the Hmong Community for electing 11 candidates to office in Minnesota, California, and across the nation!”
The 11 elected candidates are: Samantha Vang, MN House District 40B; APAICS Alumnus Jay Xiong, MN House District 67B; Kaohly Her, MN House District 64A; Tou Xiong, MN House District 53A; Fue Lee, MN House District 59A; Adam Yang, MN Second Judicial District Court House 11 and P. Paul Yang, MN Second Judicial District Court House 20; Thai Vang, NC District Court 20A; Sheng Thao, Oakland, CA City Council, and Kou Thao, Tracy, MN City Council.
APAICS is “a national non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting Asian Pacific American participation and representation at all levels of the political process, from community service to elected office.”
Advancing Justice/Asian American Justice Center (AAJC) Executive Director John Yang stressed that the victories of all Asian American candidates who ran in the midterm elections were at the national, state and local levels. “And that’s an important message to carry to the Asian American community,” he stressed. “Because we need to run for office at every level so we can reflect not only the diversity within our community, but also the diversity within our country.”
APAICS leader Mielke also noted this: “On behalf of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS), I’d like to congratulate the extremely diverse spectrum of candidates from the Asian American Pacific Islander community that ran and won in the midterm elections.”
“We’re proud of the candidates that ran on local, state, and federal levels – whether they were elected or not,” she added. “At APAICS, we are working to build a government that represents the diversity in our country, and we’re getting closer each day.”
“APAICS would like to congratulate all the Asian American and Pacific Islander candidates that won their respective races, as well as those that ran strong campaigns,” she said.
Indeed, even those who ran and fell short deserved congratulations, said community leader Bing Branigin, noting their strong showing. She emailed on Nov. 7 that Filipino American Gina Ortiz Jones (D) nearly prevailed against incumbent Rep. Will Hurd (R, Texas). “In her first foray in politics, Gina was able to raise a staggering $2 million and what’s more, she almost toppled an incumbent,“ she pointed out. “We are proud of what she has achieved.”
Hurd won 49.1 percent of the vote (102, 903). Ortiz Jones won 48.8 percent (102, 214). Branigin also said Christopher Cabaldon won as Mayor of West Sacramento, in California 52%-48% against his opponent.
List of Asian American Winners
Below are the Federal, Statewide, and State office Asian American and Pacific Islander winners, 150 officially known at press time, listed alphabetically. For more details, visit http://apaics.org/aapi-candidates-new/
Jo-Ab M. Chung, Local 3rd district
U.S. Representatives Judy Chu, Doris Matsui, Ami Bera, Ro Khanna, Ted Lieu (APAICS Alumnus) and Mark Takano
David Chiu (D)
Steven S. Choi
Lou Leon Guerrero
Michael San Nicolas
U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono
Governor David Ige
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
Mark M. Nakashima
Richard H.K. Onishi
Joy San Buenaventura
Kyle T. Yamashita
James Kunane Tokioka
Mark J. Hashem
Calvin K.Y. Say
*Scott Y. Nishimoto (APAICS Alumnus)
Della Au Belatti
Scott K. Saiki
John M. Mizuno
Sam Satoru Kong
Roy M. Takumi
Ryan I. Yamane
Henry J.C. Aquino
Ty J.K. Cullen
Stacelynn Kehaulani Eli
Cedric Asuega Gates
Lauren Kealohilani Matsumoto
Lorraine R. Inouye
Jamie Kalani English
Clarence K. Nishihara
Michelle N. Kidani
Maile S.L. Shimabukuro
Susan “Sue” Chew
*Ram Villivalam (APAICS Alumnus)
U.S. Representative Grace Meng
State Senator-elect Kevin Thomas
State Senator-elect John Liu
Angie Chen Button
U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott
U.S. Rep Pramila Jayapal
Sharon Tomiko Santos
State Representative-elect My-Linh Thai
Monica Jurado Stonier
State Senator-elect Joe Nguyen