Cranston City Mayor Allan Fung on November 5th announced his candidacy for Governor of Rhode Island. One of Fung’s unique distinction is that he is Rhode Island’s first ever Asian American mayor (and he happens to also be a Republican) and would be Rhode Island’s first Asian American governor if elected. That may not sounds like much, but Asian Americans constitute only 3.4% of Rhode Island’s overall population. Cranston itself is Rhode Island’s 3rd largest city, with a population of approximately 80,000 people (Rhode Island’s overall population is about 1 million). More on Fung’s background:
“Fung, 43, was first elected mayor of the state’s third-largest city in 2008. Before that, he served as a city councilman and worked in the private sector as a lawyer for MetLife. If elected, Fung would become the first Asian-American governor in Rhode Island history. His parents immigrated to Rhode Island 44 years ago from Hong Kong and owned a restaurant in Cranston a few blocks from where he made his announcement. He said he started working there at age 9, busing tables and washing dishes. He grew up in Providence and graduated from the city’s elite magnet school, Classical High School, where he became close friends with Taveras. He went on to graduate from Rhode Island College and later got his law degree from Suffolk University in Boston. He is not married but his girlfriend, Barbara Ann Fenton, is chair of the Rhody Young Republicans.”
Fung’s family background reminds me a little bit of Connecticut State Representative William Tong (who ran for U.S. Senate), since Tong also came from an immigrant family and had owned and operated a Chinese restaurant. What is interesting about Rhode Island is how “elastic” the state is politically:
“Rhode Island is the most elastic state, a large swatch of its electorate are persuadable voters unaligned with either political party. Rhode Island has very few Republicans (10 percent of registered voters), a ton of Democrats (41 percent), but even more unaffiliated voters (49 percent).”
Given that Asian Americans tend to lean either Democratic or Independent, Fung is quite a rarity in a state like Connecticut.
“The three-term Republican mayor said his goals, if he is elected, include: a review of the state’s “entire tax system,” deadlines for regulatory reviews of business plans, a $1-million “entrepreneur venture seed fund” to help startup businesses, and tax breaks for those new businesses, which would receive tax credits for new hires and avoid the state’s corporate tax if they owe only the $500 minimum. He also pledged to create 20,000 new jobs over four years — a goal he called realistic given the “more than one thousand” jobs created in Cranston since he took office in 2009.”
Apparently, Fung is the third major candidate to announce a run for the governorship of Rhode Island. Democrat Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and Republican businessman Kenneth G. Block have already announced their candidacy. And there are apparently potentially more candidates – including Democrat State General Treasurer Gina M. Raimondo and Democrat Clay Pell (Michelle Kwan’s husband) – who happens to be the grandson of the late Senator Claiborne Pell.
Usually, when you’re running for public office, candidates usually have a working website to learn about their candidacy, and most importantly, to be able to have their supporters donate money. Fung’s current website (at the time of this writing) points references his current role as mayor, and nothing else. You can download and read Fung’s announcement (.pdf) and press release (.pdf), as made available by his campaign.