November 16, 2006
Written by C.N.
As Vietnamese Americans have been increasing integrating themselves into the American mainstream, their political power has also increased. In fact, many politicians actively court Vietnamese American voters as a reflection of their potential as a strong voting bloc constituency. However, in light of the recent scandal involving Tan Nguyen’s campaign trying to scare Latino immigrants to stay away from the polls, how did Vietnamese American candidates fare in the recent 2006 elections? In most cases, the answer is, not good:
Eighteen Vietnamese-American candidates ran for office in California this election season, and only three won. All three winners were incumbents. What happened to the growing political clout of the state’s Vietnamese community? . . .
Many Vietnamese-Americans suspect the stunning defeat this year of so many candidates has much to do with the scandal surrounding Vietnamese-American congressional candidate Tan Nguyen. . . . Duc Ha, editor of Oneviet.com, says the friendly relationship that Little Saigon worked hard to build with Hispanic communities in California “is now shattered.” Some Hispanic voters quoted by the Los Angeles Times said they were furious about the flier, and that they were motivated in part to go vote because of it. . . .
De Tran, longtime publisher of the now-defunct Viet Merc, in San Jose, says that he’s not disappointed with the election results. . . . “I don’t think this is a setback. You keep having to have more candidates every electoral season. Maybe the new groups will be better prepared next time around, more savvy with coalition building,” Tran says. “The Vietnamese community sees the Cuban community in Florida as a model, one with growing political and economic influences and lobbying power. Eventually there’ll be many Vietnamese-American candidates out of Florida, Texas and California.”
Maybe someday, Vietnamese-Americans will even be present in Capitol Hill, Tran says. What about closer to home? “Not in the next four years,” according to Tran. “We haven’t arrived yet. We are only beginning to discover the electoral process. But beyond that, it’s quite possible that we’ll have a Vietnamese mayor in San Jose. Why not?”
I can only hope that Tan Nguyen’s bonehead goof won’t permanently damage the political power of Vietnamese Americans around the country. As seasoned politicians know, politics is full of ups and downs (among other things), and things are always changing. So if you fall off your horse, all you can do is get back on and keep trying.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Election Results for Vietnamese American Candidates" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2006/11/election-results-for-vietnamese-american-candidates/> ().
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