With some upsets in politics, how did Asian American candidates fare?

By Stacy Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly

According to a preliminary exit poll released by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) on Nov. 4, the party preferences of Asian Americans typically reflect the sensibilities of their geographical location. In the traditionally Democratic northeastern states, Asian Americans voted overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates.

Likewise, in states like Georgia and Texas, Asian Americans favored Republicans.
However, on the whole, Asian Americans favored Democratic candidates. The AALDEF polled 3,500 Asian American voters in New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Georgia. Sixty percent were registered Democrats, 19 were not enrolled in any political party, and 14 were registered Republicans.

These findings were echoed in the outcomes of political races involving Asian American candidates. Nearly all Democratic incumbents retained their seats. Nearly all Asian American Republican challengers in primarily Democratic districts (and Democratic challengers in Republican districts) lost their races. On the whole, there are far more Asian American Democrats in political office than Asian American Republicans.

Compiled here is a list highlighting certain races that featured Asian Americans across the United States.

Notable wins Notable losses Too close to call
Hansen Clarke, a Democrat from Michigan’s 13th congressional district, will be the first Indian American elected to Congress since 1956.

Colleen Hanabusa, a Democrat, beat incumbent Republican Charles Djou in a race for Hawaii’s first congressional district. She will represent urban Honolulu in the U.S. House.

Kesha Ram, a Democrat, has been reelected to Vermont’s House of Representatives. She continues to be the youngest legislator serving in the nation at age 23.

Kimberly Yee, a Republican, has been elected to Arizona’s House of Representatives. She is the first Asian American woman elected to Arizona state legislator and the first Asian American since 1964.

Joseph Cao, the Republican incumbent U.S. Representative from Louisiana, was defeated by Louisiana state Rep. Cedric Richmond. Cao ran in a largely Democratic New Orleans-area district and was often cast as a fluke. (Few voters turned out in 2008, the election was delayed by hurricanes, and incumbent William Jefferson was under indictment.)

Charles Djou, the Republican incumbent U.S. Representative from Hawaii’s first congressional district, was defeated by Colleen Hanabusa. Djou had won his seat on May 22 this year during a special election. At the time, one of his opponents was Hanabusa.

Van Tran, a Republican, aimed at unseating Democratic U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez. The race drew national attention in part because though Latinos make up nearly 70 percent of their district’s population, Vietnamese have been gaining in number and clout.

Steve Hobbs (D) and Dave Schmidt (R) are both vying to be Washington state’s 4th district senator. The first count of the race showed that only 8 votes separated the pair. Since then, Hobbs, the incumbent, has expanded his lead to 672 votes and as of Nov. 9, about 65 percent of ballots given out have been counted.

San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris (D) and Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley (R) are both vying to be California’s attorney general. As of Nov. 9, Harris trails Cooley, 45.8 percent to 45.9 percent. If Harris wins, she would be the first woman, first Black, and first Asian American attorney general in California. She would also be the first Indian American attorney general in the United States.

Federal Contests WON Federal Contests LOST
Steve Austria (R) (incumbent)
U.S. House — Ohio District 7 (Beavercreek)

Judy Chu (D) (incumbent)
U.S. House —  District 32 (San Gabriel Valley)Michael Honda (D) (incumbent)
U.S. House — California District 15 (San Jose)

Doris Matsui (D) (incumbent)
U.S. House — California District 5 (Sacramento)

Daniel K. Inouye (D) (incumbent)
U.S. Senate — Hawaii

Colleen Hanabusa (D)
U. S. House — Hawaii District 1 (Honolulu, southern Oahu)

Mazie Hirono (D) (incumbent)
U. S. House — Hawaii District 2 (rural Oahu-neighbor islands)

David Wu (D) (incumbent)
U.S. House — Oregon District 1

Amerish ‘Ami’ Bera (D)
Candidate for U.S. House — California District 3 (Sacramento, Folsom)

Joseph Cao (R) (incumbent)
Candidate for U.S. House — Louisiana District 2Charles Kong Djou (R)  (incumbent)
Candidate for U. S. House — Hawaii District 1 (Honolulu, southern Oahu)

Raj Goyle (D)
Candidate for U. S. House — Kansas District 4 (Wichita, south central Kansas)

Gerald Hashimoto (R)
Candidate for U.S. House — California District 9 (Oakland, Piedmont, Berkeley)

Van Tran (R)
Candidate for U.S. House — California District 47 (Orange County)

Manan Trivedi (D)
Candidate for U. S. House — Pennsylvania District 6

Surya Yalamanchili
(D)
Candidate for U. S. House — Ohio District 2 (Cincinnati) ♦

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