OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS

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OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS IN HAWAII

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Asian Pacific American (APA) members of Congress have come by way of special off-year elections – California’s Judy Chu of the 32nd District (East Los Angeles, 12% APA voter) and Doris Matsui of the 5th (Sacramento, 6% APA voter). Chu nabbed the heavily Latino voter (48%) district when President Barack Obama elevated Hilda Solis to Labor Secretary in 2009…Matsui because husband Bob suddenly passed away in 2005… Republican APAs take advantage when donkey Democrats fall on their asses. Thai and Chinese American Republican Charles Djou won a congressional seat in a 2010 special for 1st District of Hawai`i… Republican Joseph Cao surprised with 2008’s Big Easy upset in historically African American Democratic Louisiana 2nd district. Corruption sank incumbent Dem William Jefferson… Republicans Cao and Djou lost in following regular elections while Chu and Matsui have held their seats since…

Will Rep. Colleen Hanabusa be the next US Senator from Hawai`i? (Courtesy of Rep. Hanabusa office)

Will Rep. Colleen Hanabusa be the next US Senator from Hawai`i? Photo courtesy of Rep. Hanabusa office.

DAN THE MAN: US Senator Daniel Inouye, passing away this week, was not just highest APA elected official but third in line of succession after the President. He even had the profile to be President – distinguished US Senator, war hero and Medal of Honoree and inquisitor at the Watergate and Iran/Contra hearings….GIRLS RULE: The Senate seat is an opportunity for Democratic Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, whom Inouye asked Governor Neil Abercrombie wrote to appoint before passing. If Hanabusa gets the post, Hawai`i joins California, New Hampshire, and Washington with a pair of women Senators. Then who will fill Hanabusa’s seat?…

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal with wife (right) Supriya Jolly (Courtesy of Jindal campaign)

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal with wife (right) Supriya Jolly (Courtesy of Jindal campaign)

NEW SOUTH AND NEW PARTY: The South is rising again but will national Republicans rise too with Indian American leaders in the forefront. Republican Governors Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Nikki Haley of South Carolina could reshape the discredited GOP’s angry white male brand as they shore up support from Asian, Latino, African American voters and women. Jindal espoused over-the-counter birth control – heresy to a rigid pro-life Republican Party wing. In 2008, the presidential and vice presidential prospect skipped the Republican National Convention to batten down the hatches during Hurricane Gustav, a contrast to President George W. Bush’s disastrous handling of 2005 Hurricane Katrina… Meanwhile, Haley appointed the first ever Republican African American since Reconstruction to fill a vacant South Carolina US Senate seat…

California Attorney General Kamala Harris

California Attorney General Kamala Harris

CENTRAL VALLEY KEY: And then there’s hapa Democrat Kamala Harris, who could probably name her next job after co-chairing the Obama re-election, albeit the Indian and African American is running for re-election to California Attorney General in 2014. The former SF District Attorney could ease her re-election if she picks up more votes in the Central Valley, where she needs to at least close the vote gap with her future GOP opponent. Her main selling point – $18 billion mortgage settlement easing the pain of homeowners and foreclosures in the region…Harris won a statewide nail biter by 74,000 in 2010 by winning mostly in coastal counties like San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles and losing all Central Valley counties…

Late Senate President pro Tempore Daniel Inouye (Courtesy of Sen. Inouye Office)

Late Senate President pro Tempore Daniel Inouye. PhotoCourtesy of Sen. Inouye Office

SENIORITY HAS ITS PRIVILEGES:  House Speaker-in-waiting Nancy Pelosi recently ripped a reporter over ageism and sexism about stepping down as House Democratic Leader. The representative of SF and Capitol of Asian Pacific America can cite Senators Inouye and retiring Dan Akaka of Hawai’i, both 88, proved longevity earns juice assignments and legislation: For Inouye, Senate president and Akaka, membership of the powerful banking committee. Akaka and Inouye with their clout restored World War II benefits to tens of thousands Filipino Americans and created a law allowing Native Hawaiian sovereignty…Hawaiian politicians start young as in incoming 31-year young Rep. Tulsi Gabbard – first Samoan and Hindu American and woman combat veteran (See “Potstickers” 10/25/12 at tinyurl.com/a434b3a). However, given Hawaiian strong political and geriatric gene pool, Tulsi will have to wait for her shot at a US Senate seat….

NOTHING WRONG WITH MR. RESET: Assembly Speaker John Perez’s office called to elaborate on Phil Ting’s role as Assembly Democratic Caucus Chair. (See “Potstickers” 12/6/12 athttp://tiny.cc/znnjpw) Perez spokesman John Vigna said that the Chair is an “important role” shaping the Assembly Democrat caucus agenda. For the position, Ting demonstrated his ability to deal with complicated issues in San Francisco as Assessor-Recorder and articulating on a variety of “Reset SF” issues during the 2011 mayoral campaign. The position’s duties depend on the Assembly leadership and could go beyond the stated role of convening caucuses, advising leadership and managing staff assisting legislators in constituent services and communications…

Supervisor Jane Kim

Supervisor Jane Kim

OPTING FOR OPT-OUT: One APA political club was contemplating a campaign to encourage APA residents to opt-out of SF Public Utilities Commission Shell Energy and CleanPowerSF program next October. Likely to shock residents – proposed rates are higher for anyone if anyone switches to the government-sponsored electrical generation. Rate estimates have increased from a range of $114 to $934 per year to $138 to $1129 per year for the 4.5 year deal according to latest adjustments by SFPUC…As a SFPUC commissioned survey map showed (See “Potstickers” 9/27/12 athttp://tiny.cc/h0ejpw), most APA neighborhoods (Richmond, Sunset, West of Twin Peaks, Excelsior, Portola, Visitacion Valley, Chinatown) had reservations about signing up for the deal. Meanwhile, APA Supervisors Eric MarJane KimCarmen Chu and David Chiu adopted measures to protect immigrants and low-income households, especially in APA community. Chu was among three legislators opposed to the contract about which the Mayor had expressed reservations….

Most APA neighborhoods like Sunset, Chinatown, Richmond are reluctant to switch to electricity provided by Shell Energy and CleanPowerSF. Map courtesy of SFPUC)

Most APA neighborhoods like Sunset, Chinatown, Richmond are reluctant to switch to electricity
provided by Shell Energy and CleanPowerSF. Map courtesy of SFPUC.

NO ‘YES’ MAN HERE: District 6 (Little Saigon/SOMA/Tenderloin) Supervisor Jane Kim accidentally voted for banning nudity only to reverse course and vote against colleague Scott Wiener’s legislation earlier this month, turning a 7-4 vote to a narrower 6-5 margin. Now was that topless or bottomless compromise, Jane? Last October, she voted against ousting SF Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi but supported his recall…

CHIN MUSIC FOR SPORTS FANS: The LA Dodgers are projected to go off their own fiscal cliff and spend $214 million on baseball talent in 2013. However, it doesn’t buy two championships, as the SF Giants demonstrated in 2010 with a penurious payroll of $97 million in 2010 as cited by Sports Illustrated and about $117 million in 2012 (among the top ten teams), according to ESPN.com…With the Dodgers escalating player costs, that will likely increase the cost to retain the services of Filipino American star pitcher Tim Lincecum, wrapping up a $40.5 million, two year deal at the end of 2013…FRANCHISE OR THE FREAK: Keeping up with the Dodgers and the competition will dictate how hard the Giants pursues “The Freak,” play the Oakland A’s on keeping exclusive Silicon Valley fan base territorial rights and positioning the Golden State Warriors basketball arena, which potentially competes with the privately financed Giants AT&T Park ($20 million annual mortgage until 2017 according to FanGraphs) for off season events like concerts (See “Potstickers” on 5/24/12 at http://tiny.cc/7kmjpw)….

Francis Tsang - real or ruse? Photo courtesy of Mayor's Office.

Francis Tsang – real or ruse? Photo courtesy of Mayor’s Office.

LINING UP FOR CARMEN’S SEAT: Add these names to the pile for Mayor Lee’s appointment to District 4 (Sunset) seat of Carmen Chu, assuming she’s elevated to Assessor-Recorder office vacated by District 19 Assemblyman Phil Ting…Mayor Lee’s Chief Deputy Communications Director Francis Tsang, veteran commissioner Art Tom and recently anointed Board of Appeals Commissioner Darryl Honda as well as former special assistant to Attorney General Kamala Harris and SF Police Commissioner Suzy Loftus (mentioned in the Chronicle’s Matier & Ross)…As two APA business leaders noted, some names serve as smoke screens to divert opposition attention from attacking a likely candidate…Honda lives outside the district albeit has lived and run (2000) in District 4…The other names in the grab bag could be testing waters to run for the seat, as did College Board member Julie Tang in 1986. After Mayor Dianne Feinstein appointed Tom Hsieh (father of SF Democratic County Committee Treasurer Tom A. Hsieh), Tang’s strong support for her appointment kicked start a “100 day” campaign for supervisor, which she fell short….

MISS ME?: Follow me on Twitter at @SFPotstickers and email Samson Wong at potsticker@prodigy.net.

About the Author

Veteran columnist has appeared in up to 450,000 households weekly in the SF Independent, Examiner (2000-04) and AsianWeek since 1996. As Editor-in-Chief (2003-07), AsianWeek and Samson received wide recognition from the California Legislature, New American Media, League of Women Voters, GLAAD, Organization of Chinese Americans, SPUR and APA civic groups. Thru the SF Citizens Advisory Committee on Elections, SF Elections Task Force and Chinese American Voters Education Committee, Wong helped boost APA influence from 25,000 in the 1980s to over 50,000 voters by the early 1990s.