There's a big battle brewing in California and it involves three of the most promising young Asian American politicians in the state. State Assembly Members Ted Lieu (53rd AD) and Alberto Torrico (20th AD), along with San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, have all announced they are running to be California Attorney General in 2010. The other main candidate is Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo.
While it's always exciting to see exciting Asian American candidates move up the political food chain, particularly good progressives, I can't help but wonder if this is a sign of progress for our community or political suicide for all three to be running for the same office.
Each of the candidates has a separate base of support. Assemblymember Lieu is a Taiwanese American who represents the 53rd Assembly District , which stretches from Venice and parts of Los Angeles to Torrance and Lomita along the coast. Ted has a temporary campaign site. His top priority, according to this page is "protecting our citizens". No surprise here since he has a background with the Air Force. Ted has spoken at a few APAP events, including our Grassroots Gala in DC and he has come out strongly in favor in marriage equality. I get a sense that he is trying to shore up his progressive credentials since Kamala's reputation is more to the left.
Harris, like Lieu, was an early and vocal supporter of President Obama. In fact, she was co-chair for the California for Obama campaign. Here is a link to her campaign website. As the only major female candidate in the race, Harris definitely has her diehard supporters. She's also half-African American; the other half being Indian. I personally am not that familiar with her, but a quick glance at her campaign website shows her forte will be law enforcement.
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Her pledge is to move beyond the false choice of being "tough" or "weak" on crime. Kamala Harris is smart on crime...and it's working. She's put more violent and serious felons in state prison, cracked down on gang and gun violence, and protected neighborhoods from drug dealers and quality of life crimes.
At the same time, she's safeguarded medical marijuana, reached out to keep youth away from violence, and pioneered innovative programs to help men and women released from state prison get back on track.
Being in Southern California, we don't really hear much about the local politicians up North, so it would be great for her to include some of her other positions on her website. Same goes for Torrico, who represents the 20th Assembly District in the East Bay of Northern California, including the cities of Fremont, Neward, Union City, and Milpitas. Torrico is half Japanese and half Latino. His campaign website focuses on the following issues:
- Cracking down on gang activity and drug trafficking
- Protecting children from sexual predators - in schools, neighborhoods and online
- Working with state, federal and local officials to help stop the tide of foreclosures that are decimating so many California comunities
- Prosecuting sub-prime lenders and brokers who preyed on borrowers
- Promoting clean, green energy and protecting ratepayers
- Fighting discrimination of any kind, based on ethnicity, age, gender or sexual identity
Ultimately, I think it's great that all three are running. Since AAPIs are only 12% of the eligible voters and about 6 or 7% of the actual voters in the state, it will mean all of them will have to appeal to voters outside of our community and to build bridges and coalitions. Having so many progressive Asian Americans putting an Asian American face on progressive issues is a good thing.