2010 Mid-Term Election Wrap-up – Congress, State & California

Even though it’s been more than a week since the election, there are still a few races being counted. I thought I’d give a quick wrap-up of what happened from an Asian American standpoint; this is by no means an exhaustive and comprehensive list, but some races that have been on my radar.


At the Congressional level, the biggest news is that first term Congressman and first ever elected Vietnamese American Joseph Cao (R-Louisiana), was defeated by Democratic state Representative Cedric Richmond. This wasn’t any big surprise. Cao was elected in 2008 in a New Orleans district that is 75% Democratic and where the seat was previously occupied by convicted Congressman  William “cold cash” Jefferson, having hid over $100k in his refrigerator.

Congressman David Wu, the only Taiwanese American and first Chinese American to be elected to Congress, won re-election in Oregon for his 7th consecutive term.

California  State Assemblyman Van Tran lost to incumbent Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez.

Anti-immigrant Nevada Senatorial Republican candidate Sharron “Hispanics look Asian” Angle lost to Democratic and Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid. Thanks to the Tea Party, the Republicans did not win the Senate with candidates like Angle, as well as Christine O’Donnell in Delaware and Ken Buck in Colorado.

State Level

At the state level, the highest profile race was Indian American Nikki Haley winning  the governorship of South Carolina – the first woman and non-white person to ever win the governorship in the state. Given how conservative the state is, the election was surprisingly close.


In California, State Controller John Chiang easily won re-election. State Senator Leland Yee and State Assembly members Paul Fong and Fiona Ma all easily won re-election.

Kamala Harris, half Indian American and half African American, is currently running head-to-head with Steve Cooley – for attorney general, and really close with over two million absentee ballots yet to be counted state-wide. This might take a while…

State Assembly member Ted Lieu, who had run but lost in the California Attorney General’s Democratic primary and is termed out, will be running for State Senate seat in California when a special election will be called in early 2011 – after the sudden and surprising death of State Senator Jenny Oropeza on October 20th, who was still on the ballot and yet still defeated her Republican opponent (how does that fee to lose to someone who is dead?).

Northern California

San Francisco

In District 6, Jane Kim (currently the president of the San Francisco Board of Education) won her seat for Supervisor, gathering the most votes and leading in ranked-choice voting defeating the Democratic machine in San Francisco. (When more than two candidates are running and no one candidate wins more than 50% of the votes, usually there is a run-off election – which takes time and money. So more and more cities are instituting ranked –choice voting where voters choose not only their first choice candidate but also their second choice.)

Carmen Chu ran unopposed and won District 4. Eric Chu of District 1 was not up for re-election, nor was David Chiu, Board of Supervisors President and District 3 Supervisor.

With Gavin Newsom winning as Lt. Governor’s race, David Chiu could potentially be the interim Mayor of San Francisco – which would make him the first Asian American mayor of San Francisco.


Speaking of mayors – in Oakland, Jean Quan is made a come-from-behind move, getting the second most number of direct votes, but leading now with ranked-choice voting and appears to be the first Asian American mayor of Oakland, defeating the highly favored former State Senator Don Perata.

San Jose

Highly controversial Madison Nguyen in San Jose is won her bid for re-election despite her dislike amongst her own Vietnamese American community, showing that appealing or not appealing to your ethnicity alone will or won’t guarantee that you will win an election. Candidates of all races and creeds most draw upon a coalition of constituents to be elected and serve accordingly.

Finally, Evan Low, won re-election for Campbell city council as did Margaret Abe-Koga for city council of Mountain View.

Congratulations to all the winners!

(Flickr photo credit: Erik Hersman)

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About John

I'm a Taiwanese-American and was born & raised in Western Massachusetts, went to college in upstate New York, worked in Connecticut, went to grad school in North Carolina and then moved out to the Bay Area in 1999 and have been living here ever since - love the weather and almost everything about the area (except the high cost of housing...)
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