California primary winners: If Senate candidate Carol Liu and Assembly candidates Paul Fong and Mariko Yamada win their primaries in November, the Asian Pacific Islander Joint Legislative Caucus will reach a historic number of 11 members and a total of 15 state API elected officials, if you include state constitutional officers like State Controller John Chiang and Board of Equalization members Judy Chu, Michelle Steel and Betty Yee (Assemblyman Ted Lieu is the current chair of the API Legislative Caucus).
Filipino candidates still waiting their turn: Unfortunately, two of the Filipino American candidates, Christopher Cabaldon and Arlie Ricasa, were unsuccessful in their second bids for Assembly seats. However, don’t be surprised if you see their names surface again for another run as these two are among the finest representatives in local politics. Talent waiting in the wings after completing their Capitol Academy training in Sacramento includes Daly City Council member Mike Guingona, Robert Bonta of the Alameda Health Care District and Hercules City Council member Ed Balico.
The Capitol Academy is an all-expenses-paid three-day training program funded by the Joint API Legislative Caucus Institute for local API elected officials interested in running for state office. Interested applicants for the class of 2009 can send their inquiries to P.O. Box 289488, Sacramento, CA 95818.
Tough loss for Chan and Cabaldon: It was a disappointing loss for all API supporters of Assemblywoman Wilma Chan, who lost her Senate bid to Assemblywoman Loni Hancock. Both Chan and Hancock represent similar platforms, but Chan’s absence from the Legislature and Hancock being an incumbent legislator tilted the election to Hancock’s favor. Fortunately for this district, both women are highly regarded elected officials. If Obama wins the presidency, he would be smart to put Chan’s invaluable public service experience to good use by offering her a deserving appointment (she was an early Obama supporter).
Cabaldon was favored to win the Cabaldon/Yamada race, but his campaign just could not endure organized labor’s opposition, which provided last-minute independent expenditures and ground troops for his opponent. However, Yamada deserves credit for her victory, because her energy, enthusiasm and undaunted spirit prevailed in a contest where she was considered the underdog.
A race that API constituents are watching closely statewide is the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors District 2 race, where popular Sunnyvale City Council member Otto Lee faces a runoff against Dave Cortese. The seat is one of the most heavily populated API seats in the county, and Lee’s generosity and willingness to help a multitude of API elected officials and candidates statewide has garnered him a large network of supporters (Lee is also a graduate of the Capitol Academy).
Powerful women in powerful places: Elected positions are not always the most influential positions in politics. Take Courtni Pugh, who is not a household name in politics but now reigns as one of the most powerful voices in labor, and one who can strongly influence the outcome of all elections in California. Pugh was recently named executive director of Service Employees International Union California State Council, the largest union in California representing over 700,000 public employees.
Pugh brings over 15 years of experience in political leadership to the position, having played key roles in numerous presidential, gubernatorial, congressional and legislative campaigns. She has served as SEIU’s California political director, and among her strengths is her leadership role in developing political strength in API and immigrant communities and among other communities of color.
Jadine Nielsen, a former San Franciscan, gained political fame as the chief of staff to the late U.S. Sen. Alan Cranston. She continued her successful career as a deputy mayor of Los Angeles, a Clinton presidential appointee and a political consultant to Congresswoman Mazie Hirono of Hawai‘i. She was Hawai‘i’s point person for the Kerry/Edwards presidential campaign and recently served in that same capacity for the John Edwards presidential campaign this year. Her recent election to the position of Democratic national committeewoman representing Hawai‘i at the Democratic National Committee will definitely give Hawai‘i a much-needed stronger voice at the DNC.
Pasquil casts critical presidential campaign vote: If you watched the televised historic DNC Rules Committee hearing to determine how Michigan and Florida would be seated at the Democratic National Convention, you may have noticed the one and only API face at the table. It was California’s Mona Pasquil, a Clinton superdelegate and former Clinton White House staffer who made sure her lone API voice was loud and clear during the process.