Little Saigon Loses Big in Midterm Elections

Little Saigon Loses Big in Midterm Elections

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Across the country, except for a few bright spots, most Viet candidates fall flat, losing their races, sometimes spectacularly.

Now, of course, there is such a thing as a “Vietnamese bounce”—late absentee ballots cast mostly by Vietnamese— which has caused people to sometimes prematurely announce the death of some campaigns.

But, from the way things look, even the “Vietnamese bounce” won’t help this time.

Starting with the highest-ranking Vietnamese American elected official, U.S. Rep. Joseph Cao (R- New Orleans) most famous for being the only Republican to vote for health care reform.

Two years ago, Cao won in a year when most Republicans lost. This year, when Republicans have been the victors, Cao lost spectacularly, 34 percent to 64 percent, and conceded early in the night. He was defeated by Cedric Richmond, who won in what is considered a rare bright spot for Democrats in the 2nd congressional District.

Another Vietnamese-American Congress hopeful, California Assemblyman Van Tran (shown above), ended the night trailing incumbent Rep. Loretta Sanchez 42 percent to 51 percent, with all precincts counted. The distance to be made up is 4,993 votes, a number widely considered too high for late absentees to make a difference.

And the man who had hoped to replace Tran in the California State Assembly, Democrat Phu Nguyen, fought valiantly in a district with one-third more Republicans than Democrats and in a Republican-leaning year. Phu Nguyen got all the way up to 44 percent to 56 percent, and fell 8,000 votes short.

Two groups lost big in Little Saigon. One is an organization with no English name that held a public voting all over Little Saigon earlier this year, resulting in a committee of 7 that’s supposed to be the official representatives of the community.

The Vice-President of the group is Bruce Tran, owner of VHN-TV. Tran ran for mayor of Westminster and lost big time, 19 percent to 71 percent.

The spokesman of the committee that organized that public voting, Charlie Chi Manh Nguyen, ran for the Huntington Beach Union HSD, which reaches into and covers parts of Westminster. With 3 positions available, Nguyen ended in fourth place.

The other group that lost big is SBTN-TV, the media giant that had backed Hoa Van Tran for Orange County supervisor. This time, SBTN stands behind the Westminster City Council race for Khoa Do, a show host who’s well thought of in the community, having volunteered for several popular community events. But even with media support,  Do ended up in next-to-last place.

It’s not as if other Vietnamese-Americans candidates for council fared any better. Incumbent Andy “DUI” Quach burned tens of thousands on the race, and ended up 48 votes behind the other Vietnamese American incumbent, Tri Ta. It looks like there will no longer be a Viet majority on the Westminster city council, as challenger Penny Loomer—almost a winner two years ago—took the first spot, leaving Quach and Ta sort out among themselves the 48 votes plus-or-minus whatever late absentees, for the second position available.

Also running in the area is former Councilman Tony Lam, the first Vietnamese-American to win public office. Returning to politics seeking a seat on the Midway City Sanitary District, he ended dead last.
There is one local bright spot in Orange County. In the city of Fountain Valley, businessman Michael Vo, owner of a traffic school, finished ahead of two incumbents to win a seat on the city council. (In this same race, another candidates reputedly also supported by SBTN ended in the single digits.) This marks the first time an OC Viet candidate wins without the votes of Westminster/Garden Grove.

And there’s an out-of-state bright spot. State Representative Hubert Vo in Texas held off a powerful challenge by his Republican opponent and was leading by around 1,000 votes when the election office there went to sleep and stopped updating its web site for the night.

In San Jose, California, incumbent city council member, Madison Nguyen (shown above), according to the Mercury News last night, “appears to have won re-election; she is leading challenger Minh Duong by a five-point margin.”

Additonal reporting by New America Media.