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The California Controller’s race is in recount territory as Democratic candidates Betty Yee and John Perez closed in on 870,000 votes each and were fighting for second place to qualify for the November election under California’s “Top Two” rule. As of early Thursday, 16 days after the election, Board of Equalization member Yee had taken a slim 68 vote lead against Assembly Speaker Perez … THE BIG IF: But Yee may actually have the advantage since most of the remaining 119,000 votes are from counties she led. Based on California Secretary of State estimates on the end ofWednesday, 28 counties still had not finished counting. Yee led in 9 unfinished counties. Perez was ahead in 2 counties.Meanwhile GOP Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin was firming up her first place hold with more than 985,000 votes, while Republican CPA David Evans had slipped into fourth place and out of the running with some 837,000 votes. The uncounted votes include mailed, provisional or other ballots needing to be verified and counted or damaged ballots to be reconstructed….

Board of Equalization member Betty Yee, John Burton and former Assembly Pro Tempore Speaker Fiona Ma. Photo courtesy of Fiona Ma.

Board of Equalization member Betty Yee, John Burton and former Assembly Pro Tempore Speaker Fiona Ma. Photo courtesy of Fiona Ma.

VOTES FROM YEE STRONGHOLDS: What is significant is 9 counties where Yee was winning comprise more than 78,000 out of the uncounted ballots and come from counties with large uncounted electorates – Sonoma (28,015 to count), Contra Costa (14,000), Yolo (7182), Mendocino (6918). To compare, Perez’s top counties only made up more than 13,000 of these uncounted votes, including his home county of Los Angeles (4898). However, the Speaker can’t depend on his dwindling uncounted strongholds to overtake Yee or look for support from Yee, Evans or Swearengin strongholds …The pro-Evans counties, with more than 12,000 total to count, will not be enough to catch Yee or Perez who lead him by over 30,000…If Yee manages to win this, Perez does have the bucks to pay for a recount if Secretary of State Debra Bowen doesn’t do a freebie. While this isn’t the scale of Gore vs. Bush in 2000, a legal battle over recount hamstrings Democrats Yee and Perez from campaigning. That leaves Swearengin free and clear to campaign by her lonesome…

CLEAN BILL OF HEALTH FOR 2018: Bush “Architect” Karl Rove’s brain is bursting a vein about whether feared Democratic White House candidate Hillary Clinton has brain damage from a concussion as US Secretary of State…Meanwhile, any notion current California Controller John Chiang can’t cut the rigors of a statewide campaign for Treasurer after a minor heart attack the day after Xmas 2009 was disproven with 2.2 million votes (as of June 18) and beating his November rival Greg Conlon, Republican, 55%-38%…or even 2018 Governor…Chiang has to enter the television discourse of CNN pundits like John King’s Inside Politics that identified the usual gubernatorial suspects inCalifornia Attorney General Kamala Harris (2.1 million votes, 53% to 12% for nearest elephant likely November opponent Ron Gold)Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom (2.0 million, 50% to 23% for GOP’s November cannon fodderRon Nehring), former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigoisa. Inside Politics is eying 2014 Republican gubernatorial nominee and former Treasury official Neel Kashkari, seen as a GOP long run savior (2018?) by beating his Tea Party opponent in Democratic California….

AND THEN THERE WERE NONE: With the May 30 departure of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, that leaves no APAs in the cabinet after President Barack Obama started 2009 with three in Shinseki, Steven Chu of Energy and Gary Locke of Commerce. On the day of Shinseki’s resignation, photos of him and Obama walking and discussing on White House grounds showed how close the two were, given their Hawai`i birthplaces and the respect held for the former Army Chief of Staff who warned President George W. Bush and Congress and was later vindicated about the number of troops needed to invade and occupy Iraq. Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld underestimated the force needed that turned into an eight year long occupation …

Steven Chu

Steven Chu

ALOHA APAs IN WHITE HOUSE: If Obama’s search for a Veterans Secretary could have come down to nominating an Asian Pacific American (APA), that candidate would have to pass Senate confirmation and have credibility on Vets issues. How about former US Senator Dan Akaka from Obama’s Aloha State and former chair of Senate Veterans Affairs Committee? There might not be too many candidates for the job given the next Secretary will have only two one-half years to clean up the institutional mess and scandals deliberately hidden from Shinseki. Assuming the octogenarian who aided in redress for Filipino American World War Two veterans health benefits was up to task, he probably would face doubt at confirmation given that his own US Senate colleagues demoted him from chair to mere member of the influential Veterans Affairs Committee and assigned him to chair the less influential Indian Affairs Committee …Further, given Democrats have tenuous control on the US Senate, the President’s more likely to choose a GOP US Senator than, for example, Democrat and APA US Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawai`i who otherwise would make a nice pick given a large Hawaiian veterans constituency…

ROSS & PAUL RESURRECTION: SF Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi once a political pariah over a Dec. 31, 2011 domestic violence incident with his wife is appearing more often in the media as a law enforcement figure. Recently, he spoke onKTVU about criminal access to ATM vestibules using non-bank cards. It’s 18 months before his re-election campaign. If the powers that be want to thwart Mirkarimi’s attempts to politically rehabilitate himself, they may ask law enforcers like DA George Gascon (e.g. recent PSA on pedestrian/traffic safety) since he’s up for 2015 re-election or Police Chief Greg Suhr to step up media appearances and deny air time to the Sheriff…Meanwhile, Assistant Sheriff Paul Miyamoto who finished a strong second to Mirkarimi in 2011 is making the political rounds as an undeclared candidate. Inside the Sheriff’s Office, Mirkarimi could take on media interviews enhancing his image like the ATM vestibule and then assign dirty assignments to Miyamoto like defending the department in the SF General Hospital Lynne Spaulding death scandal. However, the timing is ideal for Miyamoto and other Mirkarimi challengers since they could ride 2014 into 2015 election for Sheriff on the Mirkarimi domestic violence debate stirring up in the 17thAssembly District race (east side SF) between David Campos (voted against Mirkarimi’s removal) and David Chiu(voted for the Sheriff’s removal). Don’t be surprised to see Mirkarimi and Miyamoto showing up at the same women’s events….

YEE FOR ME?: Few dignitaries at Wah Mei Bilingual School 40th anniversary and spring gala at King Wah of Westlake on May 9 laughed nervously as they opened a folder with a honorary state senate certificate and expressed relief to see it was from State Senator Mark Leno, not his suspended colleague, Leland Yee

TUNE FOR TANG: Honored for being an original Wah Mei founder of the bilingual and bicultural preschool with retired SFUSD principal Lisa Tang Shek (Julie’s sister), Associate Pastor Wesley Woo of St. John’s Presbyterianand former SFUSD principal Al Yuen and life time work, Superior Court Julie Tang confirmed her early years for current class of preschoolers with by singing a Cantonese nursery rhyme. Obviously she was paying attention…Other Wah Mei preschool founders: Superior Court Judge Lillian Sing, former College Board member Alan S. Wong, former Vice Chancellor Frances Lee of City CollegeProfessor Ling-Chi Wang and wife Linda Wang….Hot Wah Mei silent auction items – graduation tickets…

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.