John Chiang’s New ElectAAPI.org PAC Aims to Boost Political Fortunes of Asian American Candidates

Image courtesy of ElectAAPI.org

A lot of people, including myself, were wondering what former California State Treasurer (as well as former State Controller and Board of Equalization) John Chiang was going to do after his failed bid to run for Governor of California.

Well, we no longer have to wonder – back in mid-March, Chiang announced:

“In an email to supporters Thursday, Chiang said he’s launching a political action committee aimed at electing Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders across the country, with a particular focus on congressional seats.

“We want to build a more inclusive America. For too long, Asian Americans have not had the political infrastructure like so many other communities to be as successful in the political arena,” Chiang said in an interview.

The PAC, ElectAAPI.org, hopes to amass a seven-figure war chest for the 2020 cycle and plans to give directly to federal candidates as well as use independent expenditures to influence races. The group also wants to help mobilize Asian American voters, the fastest growing racial group in the electorate.

Citing what it called “growing racism, xenophobia and intolerance being perpetuated by the GOP,” the PAC’s website said it will support only Democratic candidates.”

I’m a little surprised by Chiang’s move, but glad he didn’t sell out to become a corporate lobbyist, that is for sure.

The first candidate ElectAAPI is supporting Congressman Andy Kim, from New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District. (Kim is the first Democratic member of Congress of Korean descent, and the second overall).

Best of luck to Chiang in starting this PAC and I look forward to catching up with him soon to learn more, maybe at the upcoming 2019 California Democratic Party Convention at the end of May.

Michelle Kwan Endorses Vivek Viswanathan for California State Treasurer

Michelle Kwan and Vivek Viswanathan

Here with Michelle W. Kwan reminiscing about our time on the 2016 campaign trail with Hillary Clinton. Thanks so much for your support, Michelle! Check out our campaign at www.vivekforca.com #VivekforTreasurer #RunwithVivek

Posted by Vivek Viswanathan on Saturday, March 3, 2018

Video & Image courtesy of Vivek Viswanathan for State Treasurer 2018 – https://www.vivekforca.com/

Back in early March, I was on Facebook and I saw a fundraising event titled Happy Hour: Michelle Kwan & Vivek Viswanathan in San Francisco, and I was like, what?!?

I had briefly seen Michelle back in January for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in the security line for the press/VIP entrance but didn’t get a chance to chat with her since I wanted to make the press conference for the announcement of the U.S. Olympic men’s figure skating team. The first and only time I had met Michelle was back in the Fall of 2015 for a fundraiser for Asian Americans for Hillary in San Francisco. Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton didn’t become president …

Who is this Vivek Viswanathan candidate and what is he running for was what I first thought? He’s running for California State Treasurer, to replace outgoing Treasurer John Chiang (who is running for Governor of California.) Well, since Michelle was going to the event – I had to go and learn more about Vivek!

At the Happy Hour, Vivek’s remarks were brief, but I was able to stay for dinner and hear more in-depth from not only Vivek, but also:

https://youtu.be/gxzzQ8buvoY

I also had a chance to first chat with Vivek’s Aunt & Uncle, who live near San Jose, as well as his Mom & Dad as well as his brother (who were all in town for the event visiting from New York). At the Happy Hour and also during the dinner reception, I did get to learn that Vivek is a really smart guy, having gone to Harvard for undegrad, and getting his JD/MBA at Stanford.

He’s also been a Special Advisor, Office of Governor Jerry Brown and also a Policy Advisor to Hillary Clinton on her presidential campaign. Michelle Kwan, Ann O’Leary and Dan Schwerin knew Vivek from working on the Hillary Clinton campaign together at the campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, New York and that’s how they all got to know Vivik and to endorse him.

All of this at the age of 30. He’s also doing something unique to get the word out about his race for California State Treasurer – running 500 miles from Sacramento to San Diego over a period of around two months to reach out to Californians and learn & listen.

After the long evening, I did get a chance to do a brief interview with Vivek:

I really admire Vivek putting himself out there and running for office, but it will be a big challenge for him running against a very established Democrat that is very well known and liked among the Democratic establishment even if the general Californian public doesn’t know her that well (a lot of people don’t even know who John Chiang is!)

There is also apparently a Republican in the race for State Treasurer according to Ballotpedia, but given there are no elected Republicans holding state wise offices, I’m pretty sure that his chances are close to zero of being elected, but he might have a chance to make it from the open primary to the general election in November.

The only poll that matters is election day. Stranger things have happened, as we all know, Donald Trump was elected president … And first time candidate Stephanie Murphy made history by beating a 24 year incumbent to become the first Vietnamese American woman elected to Congress.

Oh, and I also did get a chance to meet Michelle and chat with her at both the happy hour and dinner reception:

The above photo got me over 100+ likes on Facebook 🙂 and plenty of comments …

Best of luck to Vivek is his run for California State Treasurer! You can follow Vivek at:

Website: www.vivekforca.com | Facebook: www.facebook.com/vivekforca

Twitter: @vivekforca | Instagram: www.instagram.com/vivekforca

DNC 2016 – Day 4 – Quick Chat with CA State Treasurer John Chiang and Governor 2018!

Although I had seen California State Treasury John Chiang several times during the week at the Democratic National Convention, I hadn’t had a chance to do an interview. On Day 4 at the California Delegates Breakfast, I finally did, though only briefly, to get his thoughts on the Convention as well as his run for Governor of California in 2018.

dnc_2016_day_4_chat_with_john_chiang

Yes, that’s right. I don’t think I’ve had the chance to blog Chiang’s announcement, but back in May or so, Chiang announced that he’s officially running:

“California Treasurer John Chiang has made it official: He’s running for governor in 2018. …

“As your next Governor, I have a blueprint for expanding and renewing the California dream through fixing our crumbling infrastructure, making retirement security our generation’s call to arms, and rebuilding California’s middle class through better jobs and improved educational opportunities,” Chiang said. …

Right now, Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is the only other well-known California politician to officially jump into the governor’s race . Newsom has been aggressively raising money and already has $5.4 million cash on hand.

Skelton said that Chiang has $3.2 million left over from his successful 2014 bid for treasurer and can transfer that money to his new campaign account for governor.

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also has expressed an interest in running for governor, but the Democrat isn’t expected to make a decision until the summer or fall.

Chiang, a Democrat from Torrance, has been elected to statewide office three times: twice as controller and as state treasurer in 2014.”

I’m thinking that John has a real chance of being elected governor. Newsom I think is overall more well known, but I think a bit too liberal for a lot of Californians and has some personal baggage that some voters might not like, though Newsom did get elected as Lieutenant Governor. John is a practical Democrat that is well liked among Democratic insiders. I think Asian Americans (especially Democrats and Independents), who comprise of 15% of the California electorate, will overwhelming support John.  We’ll see though, there is a lot of time between now and November 2018!

 

8Asians at the Democratic National Convention 2016 in Philadelphia, Day 1

2016_DNC_John_8Asians

I had such a good time four years ago at the Democratic National Convention 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina in September 2012 (my blog posts):

I decided if I could at a reasonable cost covered on my own dime, on my own vacation time, I’d attend the convention again. Well, I made it to Philadelphia again and have attended numerous events, which I’ll follow-up on more. But here’s a sample from:

Day 1 – Monday, July 25th:

California Delegates Breakfast

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Where I got to see California State Treasurer John Chiang speak, among other elected Californian Asian Americans.

AAPI Caucus

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Which included Congressman Mike Honda and Congresswoman Judy Chu (both from California).

APIAVote Briefing & Reception

2016_07_25_DNC_2016_Day_1_CA_APIAVote_Briefing

And at the reception, got to see:

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Fresh Off the Boat’s Constance Wu speak about her interest and involvement in politics.

And that was only during the first day! More to come!