Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

APIA Power Plays

So the site's called Power and Politics, and so far you haven't heard that much political analysis. I'm going to change that by highlighting different campaigns, or a changing of the guards that might lead to a newAsian American face amongst our nation's electeds. I'll also be blogging about dirt in the APIA political community, and items of interest in the *ta-da!* APIA Power Play, an occasional review of the national and municipal political landscapes, especially pertaining to our community. I've done some stuff before but not under this banner. So drop me a line if you've got any good dirt or political storylines featuring Asian Americans playing out in your city/state at powerpolitic@yahoo.com. Welcome to Vol 1, issue 1:

Well, for the past four years NYC and State has had its one and only (and first) Asian American State Assemblyperson and former businessman Jimmy Meng (D-Flushing.) Now he is not running for reelection. However, supposedly his daughter Grace Meng is in the running.

While there had been rumors when Meng originally ran that NYC's only (and first) Asian American councilmember, John Liu (D-Flushing) had wanted the seat, he put a press release out today saying he doesn't want the seat but will be actively involved in picking a nominee.

So my head's sorta spinning from all the action, because I had thought that Liu would have gone for the Assembly seat but some rumormongers say that he's vying for the NYC Comptroller position, one which I wouldn't necessarily put him in the frontrunner position for. You have to have serious labor and Manhattan support, and while I admire his gumption, I think he's a long shot. We'll see what develops in coming months. Meng's seat will be open in the 2006 elections, and the Comptroller is up in 2009. One might ask why Liu wants to jump out of the City Council pool -- he's term limited (NYC limits people to 2 terms, whereas the state leg doesn't.)

Meantime, in Illinois, Tammy Duckworth is running as a Democrat for the seat of retiring Congressman Henry Hyde (R-IL). She has a pretty amazing life story, including helping Rotary clubs do humanitarian aid in Afghanistan and serving in the Illinois Army National Guard in Iraq as a Black Hawk pilot. It was while flying in the line of duty that her copter was struck and she wound up losing both legs and shattering an arm. When she was recuperating at Walter Reed (which by the way, the Bush administration is shutting down), she kept other soldiers' spirits up. She decided to continue her leadership and dedication to service by running for Congress.

Although it is a conservative leaning district that encompasses Wheaton College, a Christian university, the APIA population is 8% and more Chicagoans kep moving into the district, turning it progressively bluer. This was the site of a contentious primary battle between two capable and talented women (Christine Cegelis and Tammy Duckworth.)

It seems as though while Cegelis had more on the ground support, Duckworth had marshaled the Democratic heavies both instate and natinally - Senators Durbin and Obama, Hilary Clinton, Congressman Mike Honda (Vice Chair of the DNC), Congressman Rahm Emmanuel (chair of the DCCC), the list goes on. This isn't to rub salt in old wounds, just to acknowledge that there was a spirited primary, and to move on with trying to win as many seats in the House as we can in 2006. (And let's keep our eyes on the prize here - if we DON'T win one house of Congress, the entire country can look forward to tasting the bitter, vile fruits of a Bush lameduck presidency and 2 more years to run rampant. (Spare me the "isn't that what we have already?" lines. The obvious answer is yes.)

More importantly, if Duckworth wins, she would be the first Asian American publicly elected official in Illinois who's not a judge, not to mention she would probably be the first American of Thai descent to win federal office. And only the 2nd APIA woman currently in Congress in the 50 states (Doris Matsui of California, Democrat, is the other current one.) So I hope that tensions in the district have abated somewhat since I know that right after the primary, some Cegelis supporters refused to help Duckworth. I believe that when Tammy (not to be confused with Baldwin) is elected, she will be shown to be just as good of a representative as Cegelis.


Celebrate Asian Pacific American History Month. Don't just go to some cultural fair where you can stuff your face with potstickers; read a damn good book and remember your roots.



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