Monday, March 12, 2012

5 Things AAPIs Can Do To Be Taken Seriously...

There's a lot of anger out there in the AAPI community...either about racist comments and attitudes toward Jeremy Lin, the hazing related deaths of U.S. AAPI servicemen, the splitting of Korean Americans in Los Angeles redistricting, and the disproportionate impact of bullying experienced by AAPI youth, etc.

Unfortunately, there's this huge divide between anger and effecting change.  Pointing out the problem and expressing outrage is just the tip of the iceberg.  You don't get justice by crying foul.  Other communities (Latino, Black, LGBT) have figured it out...if AAPIs really want to right these wrongs, here are 5 things they can do...

1) Establish political action committees (PAC) that can make "real" donations to candidates.  Outside of contribution limits, any donation south of $500 doesn't even register in the world of politics.  Grown-up donations start north of $1,000.  If your PAC can't swing at least $1K in ante, don't expect any politician to give you anything more than lip service and a patronizing pat on the back.  But starting a PAC is hard, right?  "We don't have the money, etc."  Really?  AAPIs spend over $500 billion annually in consumer products and services.  AAPIs are near the top in annual income.  Crying poor just means that true political power is not a priority for AAPIs.

2) Register to vote.  Political consultants and politicians have access to unbelievable data.  When AAPIs tout their raw population numbers or Citizen Voting Age Population numbers, the consultants have a good laugh.  It doesn't matter how many AAPIs are eligible to only matters how many AAPIs are actually registered to vote and actually vote.  When I develop a strategy for a candidate, the first number I look at is how many frequent voters are in my target universe.  These are the voters that vote every election.  If things are grim, I may look at trying to get occasional voters to the polls.  I NEVER look at how many people are eligible to vote and not registered yet.  Most of the time, there simply is not enough time or money to do a decent job at registering voters.

3) Volunteer for a campaign.  This means knock on doors or make phone calls.  Licking envelopes, Facebooking, tweeting, and other passive campaign activities do not help that much.  Politicians will only take you seriously if you can turn out volunteers that are willing to do the tough tasks - walk precincts or make phone calls.  The science behind campaigns show that aggressive direct voter contact is critical to winning elections.  If you don't win, you don't get a voice in the halls of power.  Plain & simple.

4) Learn how to run a campaign.  Politics is half art form and half science.  You don't get to be strategist by watching seven seasons of the West Wing or a summer internship in a legislative office.  Work on a campaign and use it as an opportunity to learn how field campaigns are run, how to raise money, how to maintain message discipline, and how to organize.  In an era of growing viable AAPI candidates, the number of AAPI political operatives are still anemic.  If the AAPI community really wants to make their issues a top priority, then AAPIs need to earn their spot among the nation's political kingmakers.

5) Master media relations.  The news cycle is now 24-7 and the channels of information are almost limitless.  Dealing with issue advocacy relies heavily on message management.  Those who are skilled at crafting message and maintaining message discipline across platforms will prevail.  If you don't have the experience, then hire someone that does to represent you.  Media relations skills are not something you pick up over a weekend seminar.  It requires a lot of work and the rules of engagement are changing every day.  Either commit yourself to mastering the craft or hiring someone that is a master of the craft.

Extended filing leaves some seats still up in the air

Because of redistricting, a number of newly numbered districts do not have incumbents running for re-election.  As a result, election law provides that the filing deadline to run for office in these seats are extended until 5 pm on Wednesday, March 14.

A number of AAPIs are running in these seats, and the extra days for filing allows for additional candidates/opponents that could make what would have been a clear field into a competitive primary.

California seats that have filing extended until Wednesday, click here.

This means there is time for additional candidates to jump into a number of races where AAPIs are running, like Congressional District 21 where Fresno City Councilman Blong Xiong is running and Assembly District 19 where Phil Ting is running.

Another AAPI announces run for Congress

This ran in the Capitol Morning Report today.

Mathews is of South Asian descent.  Peter Mathews has spent 30 years as a College and University Professor educating people. Born into a family of educators, his father was a university professor and clinical psychologist, and his mother, a teacher.

He'll be taking on veteran pol State Senator Alan Lowenthal.

Here is Mathew's campaign website:

Friday, March 9, 2012

GOP Strategist Says There's No Way Asians Can Win

Fresno City Councilman Blong Xiong announced his candidacy for Congress today.  He is running in CA 21 where Obama won 52-46, Jerry Brown won 47-44, and John Chiang won 50-38...Xiong would be the first Hmong American elected to Congress if he makes it to November and wins.

GOP strategist Max Rexroad tweeted this upon the news:

He also refers to Dr. Ami Bera who is running against GOP Rep. Dan Lungren in CA 7 that is now 39% Dem, 39% GOP and 18% DTS.

AAPIs Divided and Conquered in Los Angeles?

Why are the Korean Americans so pissed off about Los Angeles City redistricting?

If you look at the data, it becomes painfully clear why there has not been an AAPI on Los Angeles City Council since Mike Woo in the late 80s.

There is no LA City Council District with over 15% API voters.  Citywide, the ethnic VOTER breakdown is as follows:

       AAPI=7%  Latino=27%  AfAm=10%

Raw POPULATION breakdown according to  the 2010 Census is as follows:

       AAPI=11.3%  Latino=48.5%  AfAm=9.6%

Percentage on Council

       AAPI=0%  Latino=33%  AfAm=20%

There are 6 districts with a larger % of AAPIs than citywide %, averaging 4% above their citywide % (there are 0 API members on council)

There are 6 districts with a larger % of Latinos than the citywide %, averaging 22% above their citywide % (there are 5 Latino API members on council)

There are 4 districts with a larger % of African Americans than citywide %, averaging 30% above their citywide % (there are 3 African American members on council)

So basically, it appears that from a district perspective, APIs have been spread out into all of the other districts making it very difficult for an API to win a seat on contrast, there are a number of districts with Latino and African American voting blocs that are disproportionately larger than their citywide percentage and thus providing them with a better chance of winning representation on

Who decides what the districts are?  Los Angeles City Council.  So you have a Catch-22 situation where there aren't enough AAPIs in a district to elect an AAPI that will fight for a district that unites enough AAPIs into one district that can then elect an AAPI to council.

Does it surprise anyone why the Korean American community is so upset?

The only real surprise is what appears to be a disengagement or disinterest of other AAPI advocacy groups in this fight...