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TOP TWO: Thanks to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s backing of a 2010 constitutional amendment by State Senator Abel Maldonado, 3.2 million non-aligned voters are likely to make California congressional and state legislative races more competitive. That includes 527,000 Asian Pacific American (APA) voters (according to PDI) who are heavily nonaligned at 37% compared to 36% Democrat and 24% GOP. With the ending of primaries where Democrats and Republicans once selected their party nominees, these nonaligned or NPP (no party preference) voters have become players in the state’s “top two” primary system. With APA NPP voter influence, these offices will be more competitive where top two winners regardless of party or majority votes garnered in the June primary election will square off in the November general election. In a past “top two” race, it’s likely APAs influenced the hot 2012 race where Dublin Councilman Eric Swalwell upset incumbent and 5th longest tenured House member Pete Stark in the 15thCongressional District, which includes major APA enclaves in Fremont and Alameda… In 2014, the “top two” system has made the South Bay Democratic congressional race and intra-APA battle (Japanese American vs. Indian American) between incumbent Congressman Mike Honda and former White House commerce official Ro Khanna more competitive. The system could enhance the chances of Democratic Campbell Mayor Evan Low to succeed his boss, Democratic Assemblyman Paul Fong of Cupertino in the 28th District. 18,700 NPP APAs could bolster 12,600 APA Democratic votes in the district….

Campbell, CA Mayor Evan Low

Campbell, CA Mayor Evan Low

DAVID VS. DAVID: In SF’s Assembly District 17 (eastside San Francisco), “top two” is making Board of Supervisors President David Chiu (who’s straight and Chinese American) candidacy possible in California’s most LGBT seat held by a string of LGBT legislators – Carole MigdenMark Leno and terming out incumbent Tom Ammiano. Chiu could reap the benefit of nearly 23,000 non-aligned (45%) out of 50,000 APA voters (44% Democrat, 7% GOP) in his race against gay District 9 (Mission) Supervisor David CamposMatthew Bajko’s story about Chiu’s candidacy in LGBT community weekly Bay Area Reporter(9/12/13 at showed he’s been very competitive with Campos for the share of LGBT endorsements across the political spectrum. Chiu has snared gay moderate-liberal District 8 (Upper Market/Castro) Supervisor Scott Wiener and Chiu’s appointee – progressive lesbian Building Inspection Commissioner Debra Walker. And since then, he added former City Treasurer Susan Leal…Chiu, to win, has to capture a slice of LGBT support in liberal-moderate LGBT strongholds of Assembly District 17 (especially in Wiener’s supervisor district which includes Castro/Upper Market) and thereby deny Campos landslide LGBT majorities in 2014. That was the case in the 1999 mayor’s race where incumbent Willie Brown – a straight African American – held gay challenger and then Supervisor Tom Ammiano to lukewarm LGBT majorities. They were offset by Brown overwhelming majorities in such eastside areas as old Supervisor Districts 10 (Bayview/Hunters Point) and 11 (Excelsior/Inner Mission) with African American, blue collar white/union voters and emerging APA votes. While sweeping the westside and heavily APA 12th Assembly District (future 19th District), Brown edged Ammiano in the eastside 13th Assembly District (future 17th District) 51%-49%, which was considered an LGBT stronghold…

SHADES OF LENO VS. BRITT: The race has makings of repeating 2002 Assembly primary race between gay heavyweights – assassinated SupervisorHarvey Milk’s progressive political heir and former Supervisor Harry Britt and then small businessman and moderate-liberal District 8 Supervisor Mark Leno who won the seat. Campos plays the part of Britt while straight Chiu’s politics resemble Leno who edged Britt 42%-39%. Leno (who has not endorsed Chiu or Campos unlike Ammiano’s backing for Campos) won moderate-conservative, APA and affluent neighborhoods like Pacific Heights/Marina, Chinatown (which Chiu represents), Diamond Heights, West of Twin Peaks. Britt won more progressive and Latino areas like Mission (which Campos represents as District 9 Supervisor) and Haight. Heavily African American neighborhoods like Bayview/Hunter’s Point went to then African American former school board member Steven Phillips. Bayview and other African American areas could be kingmaker in Campos-Chiu race…
FAVORITE WORD: Key word for Chiu on his website declaration – “effective” which is same word Mark Leno led with in his 2002 ballot statement for State Assembly …Chiu, the District 3 (Chinatown/North Beach) supervisor, has been key vote and leader forging compromises like CPMC hospitals, scaled back America’s CupParkmerced redevelopment and condominium conversions and moratorium. Chiu’s legislative coalition building and winning the Board presidency three times presents key skills. If elected, Chiu has a shot at restoring the Assembly Speakership (held by East LA and gay Latino legislator John Perez) to San Francisco. The post was once held by Willie Brown for unprecedented 15 years – the reason Republicans passed term limits to force Brown out of office….

NAMING RIGHTS: Omniscient, omnipotent Speaker like Willie Brown in his heyday could have cut a deal that goes like this. Name the bay bridge ambiguously after “Brown” – hence “Brown Bridge” without any given first name reference to Governors Jerry or Pat (father of Jerry), or Willie. Instead of SF International Airport (as Campos failed to), then rename SF’s Market Street to “Milk-Market” after civil rights leader Harvey Milk. Finally, this columnist is satisfied with Wong Way as a dead end into some San Mateo County cemetery…

NO MOMENT OF SILENCE: It’d be hard to pay a moment of silence to recently passed cinema audiophile Ray Dolby whose SF theater hosted an Asian Pacific Democratic Club screening of Public Defender Jeff Adachi’s documentary “You Don’t Know Jack” about actor Jack Soo

Contestants do their best to eat as many potstickers as they can in 3 minutes.

Contestants do their best to eat as many potstickers as they can in 3 minutes at last year’s competition.

MOUTHFUL OF GYOZAS: Annual potsticker eating contest on Oct. 24 to benefit AsianWeek Foundation and “Potstickers” column recruiting eaters of mass quantities and anyone who can consume with style…Political celebrities especially wanted. Past contestants: Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, Deputy Sheriff Paul Miyamoto 2012 college and school board candidates Beverly PopekMatt Haney and Amy Bacharach. Email….

MISS ME?: Email Samson Wong at and  follow him at Twitter @SFPotstickers

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.