USA News

OC’s Asian communities courted early by Democrats, GOP ahead of election

When it comes to the midterm elections, national Republicans and Democrats have something in common: Both parties are banking on their early outreach efforts in Orange County’s Asian American communities. 

“This is the biggest investment we’ve ever made in this community,” boasted Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, at the unfurling of a community center in Westminster in June 2021. 

Democrats, too, opened an office in Orange County’s Little Saigon, hiring its first senior-level staffers last summer. 

Fast forward to this week, with just more than 100 days left to go before Election Day, and both parties are ratcheting up efforts to galvanize Asian American voters up and down the ticket. 

“The Asian American vote is one of the most interesting — and it’s not a monolith,” said Paul Mitchell, vice president of the Political Data Inc. firm.

“AAPI voters are a very important swing voting bloc,” said Buena Park Mayor Sunny Park, who is also running for the Orange County District 4 Supervisor seat.

“We’re financially very conservative,” she said, “but also care about social justice issues. We can be pretty progressive.”

Although the Asian American voting bloc isn’t a monolith, both parties have earmarked issues believed to be most important to voters. 

For Republicans, that’s inflation and public safety. 

On Saturday, the RNC hosted a rally and door-knocking event in Buena Park along with Rep. Michelle Steel, who is up for re-election; Westminster Mayor Tri Ta, a candidate for Assembly District 70; and Soo Yoo, a candidate for AD 67. 

Much has already been pontificated about how Orange County’s Vietnamese American voters bucked trends and coalesced behind former President Donald Trump in 2020. 

But Hallie Balch, a spokesperson for the RNC in California, doesn’t shy away from how Trump — whose conduct around the Jan. 6 insurrection is reportedly under scrutiny by the Justice Department — is not universally popular among AAPI voters. Some of that sentiment is attributed to Trump’s slurs that tied the coronavirus to the Asian community, which some feel led to anti-Asian violence.

Instead, Balch said, the party is “going to build on the Republican ideals of hard work, community, prosperity, (and) family values” to reach voters. 

“Are you better off this year than two years ago? Many people are saying no,” Balch said. 

On the other side, Democrats are focused on the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision upending abortion rights. 

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) announced this week a seven-figure advertising campaign targeting AAPI voters in battleground congressional districts, including the California 40th and 45th, where Rep. Young Kim and Steel face Democratic challengers, respectively, in the upcoming election. 

That first digital ad follows a fictional couple as they meet, fall in love and get married. But the 60-second spot ends in 2025 as the wife dies due to pregnancy complications, unable to get the proper treatment needed in this post-Roe world. 

The ad rollout marks the earliest the DCCC has invested in the community at this scale, an official said. 

“Historically what ends up happening in political campaigns, you airdrop in a couple of months before the elections,” Allen Chen, the DCCC’s AAPI senior advisor, said. “We’re not just parachuting in. We are your community, and we want to work to empower the community.” 

AAPI voters are particularly concerned about health care costs, gun violence and inflation, according to Democratic officials. 

A recent survey of Asian American voters found 88% said health care was very or extremely important to them. Another 10% said health care was somewhat important in the study conducted from April 19 to June 19 and released this week. 

That polling underscores the DCCC ad’s focus on health care complications women could face in a post-Roe world — rather than just abortion access. 

“AAPI voters want representation that isn’t just going to be following party leadership but (instead) advances the needs of the community,” Chen said. 

For both parties, outreach isn’t just about politics. 

In Westminster, the GOP base camp and community center boasts dance classes, game nights and more. The facility is open for anyone to use, officials said, even if it’s not for a political event. 

Jay Chen, the Democratic congressional candidate challenging Steel, has been hosting mock citizenship interviews mutiple times a month in his campaign offices. It was a practice of former Rep. Harley Rouda but is now offered at least once a month by Chen’s campaign. 

Park, the first AAPI woman to serve as Buena Park’s mayor, predicts the race between Chen and Steel will turn out many Asian American voters. 

As she campaigns across Orange County — and even in Los Angeles County — Park said voters are concerned about the economy, public safety (including a rise in hate crimes perpetuated against Asian Americans) and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We can be a unified force that can work as a close-party type of political force,” Park said. 

File source

Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button