Few Orange County politicians command the name recognition of Lou Correa, who has held seats in both houses of the California Legislature and on the county’s Board of Supervisors.
As he battled to regain that supervisor’s seat in recent months, the advantages seemed to be his: He led a five-candidate field in fundraising and faced relatively obscure opponents in a district where his party, the Democrats, far outnumbered Republicans.
But Republican Andrew Do, an attorney who has held no office higher than the Garden Grove City Council seat he left more than three years ago, defeated him by a razor-thin margin in Tuesday’s special election. Do received 18,905 votes to Correa’s 18,862.
Correa, who did not return calls from The Times, has until Wednesday to request a recount.
Do had assets that seemed to prove decisive, including ubiquitous access to the hyper-connected, politically engaged Vietnamese-speaking community of Little Saigon in central Orange County, who voted in large numbers, many of them by mail-in ballot.
“It’s certainly a Vietnamese win,” said Fred Smoller, an associate professor of political science at Chapman University, noting that the three Vietnamese American candidates together won about 60% of the vote.
Do’s election gives Orange County — and most likely Southern California — its first Asian American majority Board of Supervisors. Michelle Park Steel, a Korean American, and Lisa Bartlett, a Japanese American, won seats on the five-member Orange County board in November.
In this and other recent races, the success of Asian American candidates may represent renewed hope for the Orange County GOP, which has seen its once-ironclad grip on the county slip significantly in recent decades amid a growing Latino population.