Thursday, June 21, 2012

What A Difference API Representation Makes...

Dueling reports about the impact of redistricting on APIs paints a stark picture about the difference that political representation makes.

In Los Angeles, Korean Americans are threatening lawsuits over the discriminatory lines drawn and approved by the Los Angeles City Council.  Los Angeles happens to have no APIs on its city council.

At the same time Japantown leaders in San Francisco are lauding the City's final maps.  The mayor and four of the eleven supervisors in the City and County of San Francisco are of API descent.

As Rep. Judy Chu is fond of saying, "if you're not at the table, then you're on the menu."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Why I Hate API Candidates

After over 20 years of working in politics, I have come to hate my own people when it comes to campaigns.  With a few notable exceptions, here are five of the reasons why we suck at politics and why I hate most API candidates.

1) They don't understand relationships.  It's ironic that if you take any East Asian business class, they will hammer into you that the biggest factor in the success of an Asian business venture is cultivating relationships.  In fact, the Chinese have a term for it: Guanxi.  Maybe the APIs who are in politics are there because they would never make it in business.  Many of the API candidates I meet with have utterly horrible people skills and they do absolutely nothing to build relationships.  I met with one candidate that ask me to help him get support from other API electeds.  I asked him why they should support him and he replied, "because I'm Asian."  I'm all for Asian pride, but then I asked the candidate, "well, you're a rich Asian guy...did you support any of the APIs that are in office now when they were running?"  He said unashamedly that "No, it wasn't a priority for me then."  Well, no surprise - his race was not a priority for most of the APIs already in elected office.

2) They think everyone loves a good resume.  Campaigns are not like getting into grad school.  Just because you went to Harvard, Cal, USC, or Stanford doesn't mean you're going to win.  Your resume has nearly next to nothing to do with winning a race.  Campaigns are a popularity contest, not a spelling bee.  You could have the cure for cancer, but if a voter doesn't want to have a beer with you, you're not going to win on election day.

3) They think too much.  Stop thinking.  It isn't your job.  It's the job of your campaign team.  Go out there and shake hands, kiss babies, and save your neighbor from a burning building.  If you wanted to do campaign strategy, then be a campaign consultant - not a candidate.  I don't care if you can build the Enterprise Space Shuttle from scratch, you're best served by letting campaign professionals do their job.

4) They think one election success is scalable.  Just because you got to where you are doesn't mean you have what it takes to get you to where you want to go.  A lot of API local electeds get it in their head that winning a local race is as simple as winning a legislative or congressional race.  Perhaps if you won in Los Angeles or San Francisco, but not in Suburbanville, USA.  Not to say local elected officials don't matriculate up, but the smart ones run professional campaigns suited for the office they're running for.

5) They believe in strategy by committee.  It's better to go with one imperfect strategy than pursue numerous allegedly perfect strategies.  Most API candidates that I meet believe there is some magic formula for winning.  Either they waste costly amounts of time trying to ask every professional they know how to run a campaign or they decide that they will put their own personal genius to work and come up with a campaign strategy.  Neither is a good idea.  There are infinite strategies that could get you to the finish line.  Pick one and go for it.  Besides, it's not rocket science.  You win if you reach voters.  You reach voters by raising money for mail/radio/TV, targeting your mail/radio/TV, canvassing and phonebanking - period.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

DNC Invests In AAPI Bank

Democratic National Convention Committee Announces Deposit of Funds in  
Asian American-Serving Bank

CHARLOTTE – The Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) announced the investment of a $500,000 convention deposit into East West Bank, a community bank serving the Asian American community.  The funds were deposited in a non-interest bearing account, to help the bank expand their lending and economic development efforts across the southeast region.

With each convention, the Democratic National Convention Committee has deposited a portion of its federal grant in minority-owned banks in the city where the convention is being held.  The tradition aims to provide local business institutions and their customers with financial and public support in advance of the convention.  The DNCC also deposited funds in a North Carolina African American and Latino community bank.

“The DNCC is proud to make a third investment that will create opportunities for the Asian American community,” said DNCC CEO Steve Kerrigan.  “The convention seeks to engage all Americans and this deposit will help us achieve our goal.”

Headquartered in California, East West Bank has branches across the country.  The DNCC deposit was made at the Georgia branch, one of the closest branches to Charlotte and the Democratic National Convention.

“East West Bank appreciates the DNCC’s deposit and the opportunity to offer financial services to a wider range of customers.  We will use these funds to increase our community outreach work and expand our lending and economic development efforts,” said East West Bank’s Chairman and CEO Dominic Ng.

Congressman Mike Honda, Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee also expressed the following, “The Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community is an important part of our national fabric, and we hope all our AAPI brothers and sisters will participate in the convention this September.  This deposit is another example of the Democratic National Convention Committee’s commitment to diversity and to ensuring that the voices of all Americans are heard.”

The Democratic National Convention Committee is committed to engaging Americans of all backgrounds.  As part of an unprecedented diversity contracting policy, the convention established a goal of at least one-third aggregate spending with Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs), Women Business Enterprises (WBEs), Disability-Owned Businesses, LGBT-Owned Businesses and Veteran-Owned Businesses for its contracts and projects.

About East West Bank
East West Bank is a full-service commercial bank serving consumers and businesses.   East West Bank prides itself on being the financial bridge between the East and the West by providing uniquely tailored products, services and expertise to help Asian immigrants integrate fully into American life -- as home owners, business owners, community volunteers and philanthropists.  By fully utilizing  investments, loan products, and community service activities, East West Bank helps people help themselves and provides communities – either directly or indirectly – the resources needed for sustained progress.  The bank’s headquarters are in California, with a southeast location in Georgia where the DNCC deposit was made.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

CA Primary Update

Overall a pretty good night for AAPIs in California's June Primary...

Moving on to November State Assembly & Senate seat runoffs: Mariko Yamada (AD4), Richard Pan (AD9), Rob Bonta (AD18), Phil Ting (AD19), Jennifer Ong (AD20), Paul Fong (AD28), Das Williams (AD37), Ed Chau (AD49), Al Muratsuchi (AD66), and Carol Liu (SD25).

Of note, Phil Ting smashed son of US Supreme Court Justice Steven Breyer in San Francisco effectively dismissing any doubts caused by Ting's poor showing in the SF Mayoral race.  It appears that Chinese American voters closed ranks and came home to support the Chinese American candidate.  Bonta also performed well as the top vote getter in AD 18.

On the negative side, poor turnout numbers for Al Muratsuchi and Ed Chau should worry Democrats in AD66 and AD49, respectively.  Super PAC supported former GOP and newly minted "independent" candidate Chad Walsh came in closer than he should have to Assemblyman Paul Fong in AD28.  Non-profit executive Sid Voorakkara failed to make the runoff in San Diego's 79th Assembly District.

Legislative races too close to call at this time: Phil Tateishi (AD8), Joe Dovinh (AD72).

In Congressional races, Dr. Ami Bera, Ricky Gill, and Mark Takano are the newcomers that will challenge for a seat in November.  Incumbents Mike Honda, Judy Chu and Doris Matsui cruised to victories but will still face runoffs in November. 

Outlier Congressional races where AAPI candidates face heavy odds against winning because of the partisan make up of the district include Jay Chen in CA-39, Otto Lee in CA-22, and Sukhee Kang in CA-45.

It now appears that Fresno's first Hmong City Councilman Blong Xiong has failed to make it to the runoff in November.