McCain Says Gook
Former P.O.W. and presidential candidate Republican Sen. John McCains famed war record collided with his frank, no-nonsense candor with reporters when he was pressed by the media about his habitual use of the word gook. He unapologetically asserted that he would continue to use the term to refer to his wartime captors and torturers for as long as I live. But soon after Asian American politicians and community activists denounced McCains use of the racial slur, he formally apologized and promised not to use the word again. This incident raised major questions about McCains understanding of Asian Americans and the degree to which his wartime experiences still guide him. This incident also highlighted the weight of racial slurs in America today. (Feb. 24)
One-on-One with Bill Bradley
Before democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley was beat out in the primaries by Al Gore, AsianWeek got a chance to sit down with the former Senator and grill him on some issues key to Asian Americans.
Bradley admitted to not knowing many Asian Americans while growing up in a small Missouri town and said that he felt the media portrayal of Asian Americans is superficial, sporadic and incomplete. When asked what he would do to change that, Bradley replied:
I would make sure Asian Americans have positions high in my administration, so the American public can get used to seeing Asian Americans speak for America, as American officials serving their country with honor and distinction and dedication. And then I would challenge people in the media to portray more broadly what it means to be Asian American, what it means to be Chinese American, or Cambodian American. (March 2)
The National Conventions
This summer saw the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia and the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, and API politicos made their presence and influence known. During the GOP convention, presidential candidate George W. Bush tried to convey a message of racial unity by selecting several minority speakers, including Elaine Chao. Chao is the former head of the United Way of America and the Peace Corps. She also served as deputy secretary of the Department of Transportation under President George Bush.
During the Democratic convention, established API politicians stumped for Al Gore and lauded the Clinton administration for appointing the highest number of Asian Americans to federal posts. (July 27, Aug. 10)
APIs Casting Ballots in Record Numbers
An analysis of a July report on voting patterns revealed that the number of API voting in congressional elections increased from 1 million in 1994 to 1.4 million in 1998. The increase is significant considering that the number of voters nationwide decreased by 2 million. Analysts credit the increase to the growing API population (see Census). (Sep. 7)
80-20 Initiative Endorses Al Gore for President
The 80-20 Initiative, a non-partisan API political action committee with over 350,000 members, voted to endorse Al Gore for president.
The move was significant because the group, the first of its kind, had planned to increase API visibility by creating a bloc vote for a presidential candidate.
During the presidential campaign, both Gore and George W. Bush, realizing the change in the countrys demographics, had focused their outreach efforts to include minority voters. (Sep. 7)
An ad showing little girls plucking petals from daisies that ends with a nuclear blast, was withdrawn at the request of George W. Bushs presidential campaign. The ad accused the Clinton-Gore administration of giving away nuclear technology to China in exchange for campaign contributions. It ended with an admonition to vote Republican. The political group that sponsored the ad was not revealed. After airing in several cities, it drew sharp criticism, especially from Asian Americans. (Nov. 2)
Asian Americans made big wins during the November elections. Mike Honda was declared the winner of Californias 15th congressional seat after campaigning in one of the most contentious races in the nation. The seat would have determined which political party controlled the House. Washington state Governor Gary Locke also claimed victory, maintaining his status as the first and only API to lead a state in U.S. history. Congressman David Wu held onto his seat, representing Oregons District 1. Wu remains the only Chinese American member of Congress in the mainland, and only the third in its history. (Nov. 9)
Politics (Bay Area & California)
California Asian American candidates that advanced to the general election included Assembly candidates Wilma Chan (District 11) and Carol Liu (District 44), while Republicans Gloria Hom (District 11) and Paul Zee (District 21) advanced as candidates for State Senate. (Nov. 9)
Major issues on the ballot were Proposition 21, which gave harsher sentencing to juvenile crime offenders, and Proposition 22, which put restrictions on same sex marriages. Both of these measures passed. (Mar. 9)
Chan and Liu went on to claim victory in the November elections.
S.F.s End to API Representation
San Francisco saw a return of district elections that promised to increase political and ethnic diversity on the Board of Supervisors. But when all the votes were counted, the city lost two of its three API board members. Sup. Michael Yaki lost his seat to Jake McGoldrick, while Mabel Teng lost to Tony Hall by less than 40 votes. Lawrence Wong, the only non-incumbent Asian American candidate, lost his bid to Aaron Peskin. All three were caught in what were surprising anti-Willie Brown insurgent victories. The clear winner of the night was Sup. Leland Yee, who defeated challenger John Shanley. Yee remains the sole API member on the Board, while San Francisco has an API population of about 40 percent. (Dec. 14)