Hot California Primary Races

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Sign of the times: It was bound to happen — multiple Asian Pacific Islander candidates running for the same office. In San Jose, longtime API political mentor Paul Fong (D) is competing with two other local API elected officials, Kris Wang (D) and Anna Song (D), to replace Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, who is termed out. However, Fong’s leading opponent is Dominic Caserta (D). Fong has all the right endorsements, but Caserta has a slight lead in fund raising. This should be a Fong victory in a 34 percent API district, but there is fear that Wang and Song may siphon away precious votes, thereby giving Caserta the victory.

The Sacramento/Yolo County Assembly District has Yolo County Supervisor Mariko Yamada (D) and West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon (D) locked in a close race. Yamada’s strength is labor support, and Cabaldon’s advantage is his legislative experience and recent Sacramento Bee endorsement. Their popularity among the local API communities has split the community.

In a Democratic district heavily populated with API voters, former Assemblywoman Carol Liu’s (D) opponent is businessman Teddy Choi (R). Liu’s six years in the Capitol garnered her many friends and supporters. Her name recognition, fund-raising abilities and experience will make her tough to beat.

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi (D) faces Jason Teramoto (D), an upcoming political talent who formerly worked for Congressman Pete Stark. Hayashi will be tough to beat because she is close to the Assembly speaker and chairs the Assembly Health Committee, one of the most powerful committees in the Assembly.

Tough Races: Former Assemblywoman Wilma Chan (D) faces a tough campaign against Assemblywoman Loni Hancock (D). Both women are highly regarded in the Legislature and share common platforms. Hancock has the advantage of being a current Assembly member; however, Chan is a tenacious campaigner and fund-raiser. She has strong support from the Bay Area and Silicon Valley API communities. Her recent endorsement from the Oakland Tribune gives her the advantage in this race.

Arlie Ricasa, a School Board member in the San Diego area, is making her second try to become one of the first Filipino American state legislators. Ricasa is considered among the top tier of candidates and has received some worthy endorsements from San Diegans such as Sen. Denise Ducheny. She has all the qualities to become a great legislator if she can get a win this time around.

Facing uphill battles: Ed Chau (D), a Capitol Academy graduate, is challenging incumbent Gary Miller (R) for his 42nd Congressional District seat. Chau has the capacity and talent to move from a local elected office to a higher one. But ousting a seasoned and savvy incumbent like Miller in a Republican district will be difficult.

Insurance broker Raymond Chui (R) faces similar circumstances as Chau, but in the reverse. Chui is trying to unseat Congressman Pete Stark (D), a powerful member who has been in Congress since 1973 in a heavily Democratic seat.

Anaheim City Councilman Harry Sidhu (R) is running against Assemblywoman Mimi Walters (R) for a state Senate seat in Orange County. While Sidhu, a successful businessman, has the resources to finance his own campaign, Walters has the advantages of name recognition and her current legislative status to raise money and garner endorsements.

Paul Singh (D), a farmer and businessman from the Yuba City area, is running for an Assembly seat in a predominantly Republican district held by Assemblyman Doug La Malfa, a rice farmer. It appears that farmers make good candidates in this area, but it will be hard for a Democrat to win in this Republican stronghold.

Business owner Navraj Singh (R) is challenging incumbent Congressman Brad Sherman (D) in the Northridge and Sherman Oaks District. Previous opponents have found that it is almost impossible to defeat Sherman, who knows this district like the palm of his hand.

Home free: Congressional incumbents Mike Honda (D) and Doris Matsui (D) have no real contests in their races. Incumbent state legislators Alberto Torrico (D), Mike Eng (D), Ted Lieu (D), Van Tran (R), Fiona Ma (D) and Warren Furutani are all unopposed in the primary, which means victories in the general. Assembly members Alan Nakanishi (R) and Shirley Horton (R) are termed out. Sen. Leland Yee is not up for election this year.

Bravo: Assemblyman Alberto Torrico (D) was selected by Speaker Karen Bass to serve as the Assembly majority leader, the second most powerful leadership position in the Assembly.

Chip off the old block: Mayor Gina Papan of Millbrae is running for the Assembly seat in San Mateo formerly held by her dad, the late Louis J. Papan. I am a proud product of her dad’s legacy in promoting diversity in the state Capitol. I expect that Gina will continue this legacy if she wins this seat.

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