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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

January 3, 2007

Written by C.N.

Asian American Politicians in Orange County

In the recent 2006 midterm elections, Asian Americans made themselves prominent at the polls and on the ballot. As the Orange County Register reports, that election saw the largest number of Asian American candidates ever in the populous southern California county:

The Nov. 7 election featured the highest number of Asian-American candidates in the county’s history, political observers say. Of the 28 candidates who ran in city council, school board and other races, 13 emerged victorious.

Not only are the numbers record-breaking, but they reflect a trend and a “political coming of age” for Asian-American voters and politicians, said Duc Nguyen, program manager for the Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance. “People are beginning to realize that it can be done,” Nguyen said. “And they are also starting to realize the importance of civic participation and representation.”

Nguyen attributes those results to a spike in Asian-American voters, a push by local groups to get more Asian-American voters to the polls and the availability of translated voting material that simplifies the process for those who may not be fluent in English. Nguyen’s group, along with the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, released a study in October that showed a 68 percent increase in the number of Asian-Americans who voted in 2004 compared with 2000.

As I’ve mentioned before, these results from Orange County are just another example of a larger trend toward more political participation and civic integration among Asian Americans. However, what makes Orange County unique is that it contains perhaps the largest concentration of Asian Americans in the country and that it is also a very racially/ethnically diverse and relatively affluent constituency.

In other words, Orange County is a tough test for any politician, not just Asian Americans. For politicians to succeed, they have to appeal not just to their core constituents but also to the larger voting population, which is what makes the emergence of Asian American politicians in Orange County notable.

While all of these posts are in local and state assembly government for now, it will be exciting to see how long it takes before Asian Americans — particularly Vietnamese Americans — go on to become mayors of prominent cities and perhaps eventually, to high-profile statewide offices . . . and maybe even beyond.


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Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Asian American Politicians in Orange County" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2007/01/asian-american-politicians-in-orange-county/> ().

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