April 28, 2015

Two-Thirds of Our Endorsees Win

November 24, 2008
CONTACT: Shankar Duraiswamy (908.507.2949) or Dian Herrman (240.499.5937)

Two-Thirds of AAA-Fund Endorsed Candidates Win

WASHINGTON, DC / Nov. 24, 2008 ― Twenty-five of the 38 AAA-Fund candidates – including President-Elect Barack Obama – have won their 2008 races, with two others in races too close to call.

“We endorsed a record number of candidates this past year, running for offices in every region of the country,” said Gautam Dutta, Executive Director of the AAA-Fund. “Our candidates helped herald a new direction for America, one that promises to be more inclusive and attentive to the pressing issues of the day, from health care for the uninsured to ensuring the nation’s long-term security.”

AAA-Fund-backed candidates ran in federal, state, and local races in 16 states and two U.S. territories, including ten candidates in California, five in Texas, three in Virginia, two each in Hawaii, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Oregon, and one each in Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, American Samoa, and Guam.

Five endorsees were elected as new members to Congress. Senator-elect Jeff Merkley defeated Republican incumbent Gordon Smith in Oregon by three points. Congressmembers-elect Dina Titus (NV-3), Gary Peters (MI-9), Glenn Nye (VA-2), and Gerry Connolly (VA-11) won in the House.

Other endorsees in congressional races also fared well. Congressmember Doris Matsui (CA-6) won 74.5% in her race, while Mike Honda (CA-15) won nearly 72% of the votes in his district. Congressmember David Wu (OR-1) took 71.9% of the vote in Oregon. In Hawaii, Congressmembers Neil Abercrombie (HI-1) and Mazie Hirono (HI-2) both won reelection by large margins. Congressmember Joe Sestak (PA-7) won nearly 60% of the vote in Pennsylvania.  Congressmembers Jerry McNerney (CA-11), Al Green (TX-9), Xavier Becerra (CA-31), Bobby Scott (VA-3), Eni Faleomavaega (American Samoa), and Madeleine Bordallo (Guam) also retained their seats.

In state contests, Swati Dandekar won election to the Iowa State Senate with 54%, after having served in the state house since 2002 as Iowa’s first Asian American to hold statewide office. Jay Goyal took 64% of the vote in his reelection to the Ohio House. Over in Connecticut, William Tong won reelection to the State House. Down in Texas, State Representative Hubert Vo took 56% in his reelection bid. Out west, Paul Fong was elected to the California State Legislature, while Warren Furutani already clinched his seat to the legislature in February when he won a Democratic primary runoff election. Ted Lieu also won re-election to the California Assembly.

Though they did not prevail this time, new Asian American candidates for Congress made a respectable showing. Ashwin Madia lost by less than seven points in Minnesota, while Edwin Chau and Hank Eng each garnered 40 percent of the vote in congressional contests in California and Colorado, respectively.

Al Franken’s Senate race in Minnesota against Republican incumbent Norm Coleman remains too close to call, while fellow endorsee Charlie Brown trails Republican Tom McClintock by just 622 votes with 25,000 provisional and absentee ballots left to be counted in his bid for one of California’s congressional seats.

Other endorsed candidates who fell short this election include U.S. senatorial candidate Rick Noriega (D-TX), congressional candidates Darcy Burner (CA-8), Nick Lampson (TX-22), Dan Seals (IL-10), and Linda Stender (NJ-7), Texas House of Representatives of candidate Sandra VuLe, Somerset County (NJ) Freeholder candidate Cecilia Birge, and Santa Clara County (CA) Supervisor candidate Otto Lee.

The AAA-Fund is a national Democratic political organization whose goal is to increase the voice of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in local, state and federal government, by encouraging APAs to volunteer on campaigns, raise money for candidates, and run for political office.

The ‘Bradley Effect’ and APAs

Ed. Note: This piece by guest blogger Phil Tajitsu Nash was published in AsianWeek on October 16, 2008.

In 1982, popular Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley, an African American, was widely viewed as having a good chance to become the next governor of California. He led his white Republican opponent, George Deukmejian, in opinion polls before the election and in some exit polls on election day. Early editions of the San Francisco Chronicle contained headlines proclaiming “Bradley Win Projected.”

When Bradley narrowly lost the race, a variety of theories tried to explain the loss, including the smaller than expected percentage of whites who voted for Bradley. The so-called “Bradley Effect” has come to mean that when a minority candidate loses or wins an election by a smaller percentage than expected, one factor may be that white voters lie to pollsters about their support for minority candidates out of fear of being perceived as racist.

Convincing cases have been made that the “Bradley Effect” is real and that it is bogus. A recent New York Times article concluded race definitely has an effect on polling and elections, but that effect is a lot more complicated than many commentators would have you believe.

Opinion polls conducted in recent days show Barack Obama leading John McCain by significant amounts, sometimes in double digits. No doubt the faltering economy, the abysmal track record of George W. Bush and missteps made by the McCain campaign have contributed to this.

And support by young people, poor voters, and others who traditionally are undercounted could make Obama’s margin of victory even larger.

Twenty-six years after Bradley’s loss, my guess is the rise of a new generation of non-white office-holders has reduced whatever “Bradley Effect” may have existed in 1982. In fact, about 30 percent of the nation’s 622 black state legislators represented predominantly white districts in 2007, up from about 16 percent in 2001.

Aside from African American leaders, white Americans in Louisiana today have an Indian American governor, Bobby Jindal. Washington state voters elected Gary Locke, a Chinese American, as their governor in 1996. New York state’s governor, David Patterson, is African American, as is Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick. A Hispanic, Bill Richardson, is the governor of New Mexico.

There are complicating factors in any election as to why one person wins and another loses. Race is sometimes a factor, as it will be for some Asian Pacific Americans who remain uncomfortable with the thought of an African American president. But the vast majority of APAs, and of all Americans, have now had the chance to see leaders who do not look like them – whether by race, gender, or some other characteristic.
The days of monolithic rule by advantaged white men has passed, and many – if not most – of us have been represented during the last 26 years by mayors, commissioners, governors, or other officials who are not white.

I remain concerned, however, that what might be attributed to a “Bradley Effect” after the Nov. 4th election will actually prove voter suppression efforts by Republican operatives.

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo points out how Republican operatives create a big stink every two years about the dangers of people voting twice or registering as Mickey Mouse, while the real danger to democracy comes from misallocation of voting machines on election day, centralized vote tabulators that are open to tampering, abuse of prosecutorial discretion to trump up election fraud charges and other measures certain to suppress participation by minority, poor and Democratic voters.

Despite only 120 prosecutable offenses involving voter fraud in a nation where over 100 million people vote, the Republican Party is going on the offensive to knock potential voters (especially minorities and Democrats) off the polls before the election.

A recent report found that “tens of thousands of eligible voters in at least six swing states have been removed from the rolls or have been blocked from registering in ways that appear to violate federal law,” according to a review of state records and Social Security data by The New York Times.

We all have come a long way since Brown v. Board of Education knocked down the wall of segregation in this country in 1954.

I hope this election knocks down the final remaining barrier to full participation for minorities in this society, and finally lays to rest the idea that any American would cast a vote against a candidate, or deny someone else the right to vote, based on the color of their skin.

– Phil Nash

My Letter in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

As you probably know, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is notoriously right wing. One of their columnists, Ralph Reiland, wrote a whiny piece about how Barack Obama supposedly failed to win a mandate. It was published here on Nov. 17.

Imagine my surprise when my letter to the editor in response to Reiland was actually published today.

Wanna Work for Obama (Part II)?

Ed. Note:  We wanted to pass along one more way to apply for a job in the Obama Administration.  If you’re applying, make sure to send your resume to us too, as AAA-Fund will do its part to help folks get appointed.

Dear Colleagues:

The next President of the United States will face many challenges, including that of appointing more than 3,000 individuals to high-visibility jobs, such as the Cabinet and sub-Cabinet positions (which are much more numerous yet with significant responsibilities) and more entry-level positions which still wield enormous influence.

Whether the next President is Democrat or Republican, it is vital that he have a diverse and talented pool of candidates to staff his administration.  Unfortunately, without an extensive outreach effort to identify talented individuals from all backgrounds, it is likely that lists of candidates for these significant and important jobs may very well reflect the revolving door of Washington, DC.  The next Administration should reflect the changing diversity of our country—not just racial, but ethnic, geographic and religious—and we can do better if we start now to search for those accomplished, skilled and experienced individuals to help lead the country.

To achieve this goal, the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute for Race, Ethnicity and Diversity (Warren Institute) at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law is in the process of building a Talent Bank to create a rich and diverse pool of candidates for the upcoming appointment process.  Our goal is to develop a list of 300 or more highly qualified, experienced professionals and provide these names to key officials to help in the very difficult job of staffing a new Administration.

We are seeking resumes of diverse, talented and experienced individuals with an interest in public sector service and a demonstrated commitment to issues of social and economic justice.  If you would like to help identify individuals for our Talent Bank, please forward or have resumes sent to the warreninstitute@berkeley.edu.  To be fully considered, resumes must be received by the Warren Institute no later than November 21, 2008.  Please note, not all resumes will be forwarded to the official personnel transition office as some effort will be made to review qualifications and experience in order to be useful to the official transition effort.

Maria Echaveste, a senior fellow at the Warren Institute, who is overseeing the Talent Bank Project, worked on the 1992-93 Clinton-Gore transition on the personnel side, as well as on the 2000-2001 transition from the Clinton White House perspective.  The Talent Bank Project is non-partisan and has a small Resource Board of Advisors who represent both parties and who believe in the importance of diversity.  If you have specific questions regarding this project, please contact Ana Djordjevich, Development & Communications Officer at the Warren Institute, at 510-642-4102.

We thank you in advance for your time and thoughtful consideration of potential job candidates.

About the Warren Institute
The Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute for Race, Ethnicity and Diversity at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law is a multidisciplinary, collaborative venture designed to advance racial and ethnic justice in California and across the nation.  We leverage the strengths of a world-class university to deliver timely research, carefully “engineered” policy recommendations and consensus-building activities.

For more information about the mission of the Warren Institute, please visit www.law.berkeley.edu/centers/ewi.

How AAA-Fund Helped Obama

Last week, 63 percent of Asian Americans nationwide voted for Obama — and that was no accident. In addition to the Obama campaign’s outstanding Asian American vote program, AAA-Fund and a number of APA groups and leaders went to the mat for Obama.AAA-Fund joined up with Governor Gary Locke and Secretary Norman Mineta of the America’s Opportunity Fund, and placed a nationwide full-page ad in the World Journal on the Saturday and Sunday before Election Day. (World Journal is the leading Chinese-language newspaper in the country.) Our ad encouraged readers to vote for Senator Obama and offered several policy reasons why he was a better candidate for the Chinese-American community. It also included the names of leading Chinese-Americans who were supporting him, including cellist Yo Yo Ma, playwright David Henry Hwang, Governor Locke, Secretary Mineta, and others.

During the last weekend before the election, we also placed full-page and half-page, in-language ads in three leading Vietnamese newspapers, two leading Korean newspapers, and a leading Filipino periodical, all with wide circulations in the battleground state of Virginia.

We also helped to fund an independent GOTV effort in the Filipino community in the battleground state of Nevada, during the last weekend leading up to the election.

On Election Day, both Virginia and Nevada went for Obama.

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders played a critical role in making it happen.

Parade Spotlights Duckworth

Parade Magazine just ran a profile of 2006 AAA-Fund endorsee Tammy Duckworth, who might be tapped to replace Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate. Part of her interview follows.

What Our Veterans Need

Illinois Army National Guard Maj. Tammy Duckworth, a former Black Hawk helicopter pilot, lost both legs when her aircraft came under enemy fire in Iraq in 2004. As director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, she is now trying to improve care for others who have served our nation.

Veterans’ advocates say Illinois should serve as a federal model. Why?

I helped start the Illinois Warrior Assistance Program, which screens 100% of returning National Guard members from Iraq and Afghanistan for traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder. And I’ve launched GI Loan for Heroes, a program that assists veterans in buying homes. The Illinois VA also gives employers $600 for each veteran hired, to ensure that they can re-enter the workforce after they come back.

Palin Sparks GOP Civil War

The election results are only a few days old, and as Barack Obama works on his transition to the White House, on the other side of the fence the pro-Palin and anti-Palin factions are ripping each other to shreds.

Who would have thought this previously unknown governor of Alaska would be so divisive that even Republicans are now at each other’s throats over her selection as John McCain’s running mate? The anti-Palinites, mostly unnamed sources from McCain’s campaign, are leaking juicy details over Palin’s cluelessness and spending habits.

Now, these nuggets may or may not be true, but they sound plausible based on what we’ve already read and seen of her. Tina Fey’s Palin impressions will resonate much longer than anything McCain said during 2008. Therefore, the latest allegations are equally damaging whether true, exaggerated or false.

The pro-Palinites are furious at these leaks because even after everything that has happened during the campaign, they see Palin as the future leader of the Republican Party and perhaps their best shot at reclaiming the White House in four years. They see this as a conspiracy to preemptively stop Palin from rebuilding her image in time for 2012, when she might be competing against the likes of Charlie Crist, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal or Mitt Romney.

Quite frankly, I think this latter group of pro-Palinites must have drowned their sorrows over Obama’s dominating victory in way too many controlled substances. As I discussed back on Oct. 24, the GOP’s biggest problem is its candidate brain drain. As much as I admire and support Obama’s policies, I will be the first to admit that his biggest edge over McCain wasn’t his positions, but his brainpower.

Obama hired extremely smart people to run perhaps the most disciplined presidential campaign in history, starting with David Axelrod and David Plouffe. As a direct result, his campaign raised much more money than McCain’s; it picked a winning strategy from the start and never veered off course; and it outsmarted McCain’s tactically at every critical juncture, including picking a reliable running mate in Joe Biden who could both campaign as well as help govern.

On the other hand, McCain’s running mate pick was not just cynical, not just irresponsible, not just reckless, not just a political move that backfired badly. No, McCain wanted to win so desperately that he was willing to put the United States in grave danger of being run by a thoroughly unqualified President Palin. So much for “Country First.” Thank God enough of the electorate saw through that and denied both of them.

McCain’s last chance to save his campaign was to shine at the debates. But at all three, Obama displayed obviously superior smarts, frustrated McCain by parrying all of his nasty attacks, and appeared vastly more presidential. After that, only the GOP’s once vaunted ground game could make this election even close, and it failed miserably.

Regardless of whether Palin actually thought Africa was a country or not, she is exactly the wrong person to lead Republicans out of the intellectual wilderness they wandered into. Let’s face it, during the 2008 campaign Palin often made George W. Bush look like a Rhodes Scholar.

As we now know, Palin’s extreme right wing policies repelled the overwhelming majority of former Hillary Clinton supporters, as well as turned off about two-thirds of independents. And this is the person you want to lead your party? If she runs for 2012, at least then she will be vetted by the primary campaign process, instead of serving as McCain’s sneak attack on competence. Until then, I’ll continue to enjoy watching the Palin civil war.

Wanna Work for Obama?

Wanna work for President Obama? Check out the details here to learn about positions with the Obama Administration.

AAA-Fund is working to make sure outstanding Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are appointed to the Obama Administration. We will also be forwarding resumes to the Obama Administration.

If you would like to apply, please send us a resume (title the file as “manansala charmaine resume”) and cover letter (describing any involvement with the campaign) to 2 addresses:

1. charmaine.manansala AT gmail.com (Charmaine directed the Obama campaign’s Asian American vote program)

2. info AT aaa-fund.org

Make sure to apply. Our country needs your talent.

— Gautam Dutta

68% of APAs Voted Obama

From our friends at Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California:


Asian American voters in Los Angeles County supported Barack Obama on Election Day, according to exit poll data released today by the Asian Pacific American Legal Center. Preliminary findings from the exit poll show 68% of Asian American voters countywide cast ballots for the President-elect, with 24% of Asian American Republicans crossing party lines to support Obama. A collaborative project between APALC, National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC), and Orange County Asian Pacific Islander Community Alliance (OCAPICA), the exit poll surveyed over 4,000 voters in Los Angeles and Orange Counties on Election Day.

Preliminary findings from Tuesday’s election available at http://demographics.apalc.org/.

AAA-Fund NorCal Report

Ed. Note:  Kiran Jain is Chair of AAA-Fund’s Northern California chapter.

It could be days or weeks before a winner is declared in the 4th Congressional District, a longtime conservative stronghold in Northern California where fewer than 500 votes separated AAA Fund endorsee Charlie Brown, and his opponent, Republican Tom McClintock. McClintock leads Brown by 451 votes out of 311,091 cast, according to early results from California’s Secretary of State. Up to 40,000 or more provisional and absentee ballots remained to be counted. The conservative district, which includes Sacramento suburbs, was left open by the retirement of longtime GOP Rep. John Doolittle, who decided to step aside due to a lobbying scandal.

AAA-Fund endorsee Congressman Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, won his first re-election bid after successfully ousting Richard Pombo in 2006. With returns posted this morning, McNerney won in all four of the district’s counties with strong leads in Santa Clara, Contra Costa and Alameda counties. He also beat his opponent, Dean Andal in San Joaquin County, where Republican registration was the strongest.

AAA Fund of NorCal endorsee David Chiu has declared victory in the crowded San Francisco District 3 Supervisor race, after receiving 39 percent of first-choice rankings.  After all rankings are counted, Chiu is expected to win a comfortable majority.  Joseph Alioto Jr. is in second with 23 percent; Claudine Cheng, another AAA Fund of NorCal endorsee, has garnered 7% thus far.In the hotly contested race for San Francisco’s Community College Board, AAA Fund of NorCal endorsee Steve Ngo won 4th place — garnering him an at-large seat on the board.

Otto Lee, candidate for Santa Clara County supervisor, lost his bid but had a strong showing, garnering nearly 45% of the vote.

— Kiran Jain