Election Day (November 4) will again show the rising trend of Asian American and Pacific Islander or AAPI candidates. Americans of Asian ancestry are running in top national races this year. They also figure in local, city and state campaigns.
What makes this year exciting is that more new faces are joining seasoned candidates in the mix. Take Democrat Ted Lieu, who gave up his State Senate seat this year to run for the 33rd district in California. Last month, B.J. Pak was named among Republican Party’s Rising Stars. He is running for reelection in the Georgia State House.
Generally, the AAPI candidates favor the Democratic Party. In the 2012 elections, for example, 25 of the 30 congressional candidates were Democrats, according to the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS).
This year, however, the Republican Party has apparently made inroads in attracting several candidates of Asian ancestry. A partial list of the Republican National Committee (RNC) names over 20 primary winners from wide-ranging races. “The RNC is excited to have many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders champion Republican values, and run for local, state, and federal offices,” said Ninio Fetalvo, RNC AAPI spokesman.
“The RNC’s growing engagement effort continues to resonate with AAPIs throughout our nation. Our AAPI candidates are indicative of the growing presence they have in our party,” added Fetalvo, who was “not involved in the 2012” RNC campaigns, and did not have comparative numbers to track a growing trend.
Whenever he talks about how far Asian Americans have gone in this country, national leader Norman Y. Mineta has a favorite anecdote. He would begin, a smile already forming in his lips, “I remember a time when, if we wanted to call a meeting of Asian American senators and congressmen in Congress…” Dramatic pause, then: “There were so few of us that we could all fit in a telephone booth.” This was in the 70s. Mineta, a Democrat, represented California’s 13th District for nearly 20 years, starting in 1975.