BEST DEFENSE IS A HONDA OFFENSIVE

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President Barack Obama (see AsianWeek.com, 1/29/13 at tinyurl.com/ahvvy7a) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s endorsements of South Bay Rep. Mike Honda, 71, made for preemptive strikes against any potential challenger – particularly the President’s former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce Ro Khanna. Obama particularly praised Honda for “fierce advocacy for innovation and technology” – the same argument supposedly driving a congressional candidacy for Khanna – an evangelist for regaining America’s competitive edge. Pelosi also supported the 12-year Congressman for “ensuring American competitiveness and fighting for American manufacturing”…WEAKEST DONKEYS: Changes in partisan California primaries and redistricting are opening up intraparty battles. Aging incumbent warhorses are vulnerable to challenge, as are fledgling freshmen. Virtual unknown Dublin City Councilmember Eric Swalwell, 32-year old Democrat, picked off one warhorse last year in 40-year veteran Democrat Pete Stark, 81, for the newly redistricted 15th District (Union City, Hayward, and Livermore, 15% APA voters) to represent a 27% APA district… Khanna missed his shot at Stark, but the Indian American Khanna, who left Commerce when Secretary Gary Locke became US Ambassador to China, raised $1.2 million in merely three and one-half months in fall 2011. Khanna decided not to run against Stark, but still has the money in the bank…

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (left) endorses Rep. Mike Honda for re-election. (Courtesy of Honda campaign)

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (left) endorses Rep. Mike Honda for re-election. Photo courtesy of Honda campaign.

SUPERVISOR SUZY: Nice alliteration. Consider gender and mother politics in Mayor Ed Lee appointing his SF Police Commissioner Suzy Loftus for the seat of APA-majority District 4 Carmen Chu.  Jane Kim and Malia Cohen made that point at the Jan. 8 inauguration about the lack of female Board of Supervisor leadership, starting with President David Chiu being reelected a third time (see 1/10/13 “Potstickers” at tinyurl.com/bbedxnb). Then there’s embarrassment over Mayor and Board of Supervisors not unseating SF Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi who pled guilty to misdemeanor abusing his wife. Loftus appointment would be a female two-fer – women still hold a supervisor seat (total four – Loftus, Kim, London Breed, Cohen) and gain Assessor-Recorder office if Mayor Lee elevates Carmen Chu to Assessor. Currently, none of citywide or major office holders are women outside of two House seats, handful on College and School Boards (including APAs Hydra Mendoza, Sandra Fewer, Emily Murase) and Supervisors. The guys hold Treasurer, City and District Attorneys, Public Defender, BART Directors, State Senate and Assembly…Added bonus – Loftus makes an interesting foil in light of the Mirkarimi domestic violence debacle given she’s a former prosecutor and protégé of former DA and current State Attorney General Kamala Harris…If appointed supervisor, she’d be the rare prosecutor. SF hardly elects any compared to mostly defense attorneys like Willie Brown as Assemblyman and Mayor, Jeff Adachi as Public Defender, Matt Gonzalez and Gerardo Sandoval as Supervisor, Terence Hallinan as Supervisor, who ended up being DA himself. ….

 Ro Khanna has serious dough to challenge Rep. Mike Honda (Courtesy of RoKhanna.com)

Ro Khanna has serious dough to challenge Rep. Mike Honda. Photo courtesy of RoKhanna.com.

 

POWER OF INCUMBENCY: In a face-off with Khanna, Democrat Mike Honda of the influential Appropriations and Budget Committees is in position to raise the money, having anted up $891,000 (as of Nov. 26) last year and perfunctorily brushed aside Republican Evelyn Li, 73%-26%. Outside of a major Obama appointment (cabinet or Peace Corps), Honda could deter a Khanna challenge this year before the 2014 elections by raising a significant war chest, secure endorsements like the President’s and show his clout by sprinkling appropriation dollars into the district. Then it’s a question of who has the cojones to duke it out. Khanna – well-liked by Democrats who also like Honda – backed off running in 2012, but has been meeting behind the scenes with key officials and Democratic Party bigwigs swearing he’s not going to back off against Honda in 2014. If neither donkey blinks, then it’s mindless cannibalism between two top APA Democrats in the June 2014 primary and November 2014 general election… Khanna lost to another senior Democrat in 76-year old Rep. Tom Lantos (73%-19%) in a 2004 San Francisco-San Mateo County battle. Khanna speculation about moves to Stark or Honda districts is likely to stir accusations of carpetbagging…

Mayor Ed Lee (second from left) with SF Police Commissioners Suzy Loftus(center) and Thomas Mazzucco with California Attorney General Kamala Harris (right) (Courtesy of SF Mayor's Office)

Mayor Ed Lee (second from left) with SF Police Commissioners Suzy Loftus(center) and Thomas Mazzucco with California Attorney General Kamala Harris (right). Photo courtesy of SF Mayor’s Office.

SHOULD DISTRICT 4 SUPE BE ASIAN: That’s the nagging debate about a Suzy Loftus appointment. The SF District 4 Sunset APA seat is significant. With the reintroduction of district elections in 2000, APAs have held the APA-majority District 4 seat – Leland Yee, Fiona Ma, Ed Jew and Chu. The seat, where two of five voters are APA, is a political launch pad for Assembly/State Senate (Yee and Ma) and potentially Carmen Chu. However, the presence of five APA supervisors diminishes the obligation a Chinese American Mayor appointing a Chinese American to District 4 supe…TIPPING POINT: If Mayor Lee is looking for diversity, Loftus would also become the only mom on the Board of Supervisors and bring a family perspective ….

FLY MILK: District 9 (Mission, 16% APA voter) Supervisor David Campos who blindsided a few including Mayor Lee is rounding up requisite six supervisors to qualify a ballot measure to rename SF International Airport after assassinated gay Supervisor Harvey Milk. Although some like one APA leader are supportive but reluctant to even raise questions out of fear they’ll be ostracized or cast as homophobic. Among questions facing Rules Committee Chair and District 7 Supervisor (West of Twin Peaks) Norman Yee (his panel screens ballot measures) – cost of changing the airport name and marketing of SFO, a self-sustaining government enterprise…A Milk renaming ballot measure is no slam dunk in Nov. 2013 given likely low turnout for City Attorney and Treasurer races in 1997 (30%), 2001 (29%) and 2009 (22%) turnouts. 2005 was the exception when a state special election increased turnout to 53%…

SUPPORT FOR RENAME: Passage of a Milk renaming is promising in the APA community. Pew Research (See 8/9/12 “Potstickers” at tinyurl.com/98tkzaj) showed APAs nationally were more accepting of gays. That comes more than four years after the Nov. 2008 election where SF voters overwhelmingly rejected Proposition 8 same sex marriage ban. Notably, APA and African American neighborhoods were lukewarm or for the Prop 8 ban (see 11/17/11 “Potstickers” at tinyurl.com/bawbfvt)….

WHICH ELECTION – 2013 OR 2014: An argument could be made to move the ballot measure to the June 2014 election where the turnout is higher – June 2010 (34%), June 2006 (37%), March 2002 (34%). A Milk renaming ballot measure like 2008 opposition to Prop 8 surely bumps up LGBT turnout and aid gay progressive Campos’ political boat if he runs in a 17th Assembly District (eastside SF) race to succeed termed out Tom Ammiano. That could affect the straight David, as in Board President Chiu, who’s in the mix for the seat…

Victorious 2012 campaign manager and new Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club Vice President Annie Chou (foreground). Photo courtesy of HMLGBTDC.

Victorious 2012 campaign manager and new Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club Vice President Annie Chou (foreground). Photo courtesy of HMLGBTDC.

MOTHER’S MILK OF POLITICS: Annie Chou, who executed winning field campaign that retained Supervisor Eric Mar for a four-year term in District 1 (Richmond), is new Vice President of Political Affairs for influential progressive Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club. That means candidates like City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Treasurer Jose Cisneros will have to see her about Milk endorsements. If memory recollects, it’s been a long time for an APA woman to lead the stridently progressive club. Not since former school board member and Milk President Angie Fa in the early 1990s… NO APA IN THE EAST: Unlike Chou’s election, California Democratic Party 12-seat delegate slates backed by Ammiano and SF Young Democrats in the 17th Assembly District had no APAs. AD-17 includes major Chinese, Japanese and Filipino American hubs like Visitacion Valley, Chinatown, Japantown, Portola, SOMA…To contrast, a united front as State Senator Leland Yee, Assemblyman Phil Ting and former Assemblywoman Fiona Ma elected in January five of 12 APA delegates out of the 19th Assembly District (Westside SF) for the California Democratic Party 2013 and 2014 conventions (see “Potstickers” on 1/17/13 at tinyurl.com/acg5ff2)…

CHAN VS. LEUNG: Separation between church and state in one household. Bruce Chan is SF Superior Court Judge while his wife has a more public role. Former SF College Board candidate Hanna Leung – not tired of making the campaign rounds in 2012 – will be seen more as external affairs Vice Presidents of Chinese American Democratic Club and Chinese Real Estate Association of America

COME ON, SHE’S KOREAN: Advocate for SF real estate industry issues Eugene Pak still perplexed by how stogie-packing dai jye (Chinese Cantonese for “Big Sister”) Rose Pak of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce ended up with a Korean surname like his. Eugene introduced jokingly by another as Rose’s relative drew one ex-legislator to give the most McKayla Maroney “not impressed look”…

GREEN + YELLOW: Could be the blues in a city that’s one-third APA. New SF Environment Commission chair Joshua Arce divulged a preliminary ethnic and gender breakdown of department staff – 21% APA. Meanwhile the department –surviving last few years of budget turmoil and layoffs through grants according to Deputy Director David Assmann – has grown from a handful to one that’s 56% white, 12% African and 11% Latino American; 56% women, 44% men. Assmann said Environment’s the only one to voluntarily do a gender/race study of its staff. The study might be important as Mayor Ed Lee has made outreach and green job creation a priority for SF communities of color….

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.