With Asian Immigration Rising, Candidates Seek National Office

Anh Do, Los Angeles Times, September 2, 2012

Brutal, burning images inspired Sukhee Kang to jump into politics.

In 1992, as he watched televised footage of immigrant shops and dreams crumble to the ground during the Los Angeles riots, he knew he “had to do something—to make connections—to people, with people, across different groups.”

The father of two and owner of three shoe stores started simply. He raised money for scholarships. He signed up with the Korean American Coalition, pushing those like him to get involved in civic life and civil rights. He mobilized volunteers, helping torched Korean American businesses rebuild.

Now Kang holds court as the mayor of Irvine, just named by Money magazine as one of the 10 best places to live in the U.S. Four years into his term, and after four years as councilman, he has a higher goal: national office.

This election season, Kang is among 17 Asians running for Congress in the U.S.—a historic number at a time when these candidates are among the fastest-growing ethnic group in America. {snip}

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Toby Chaudhuri, a political consultant, says success requires a strong base, similar to Kang’s foothold in Irvine.

“Here is a chance to define a young new century,” he said. “These Asian candidates can take charge of the conversation about what is America.”

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Ami Bera, the child of Indian immigrants and the former chief medical officer for Sacramento County, calls the record number of candidates “a natural progression.” In public—in his rematch with Republican Dan Lungren, ranked the most competitive seat in California by the National Journal—Bera says he “always starts with my personal story and my values.”

He says his platform of “building for the middle class” will perform favorably against the failures of the current Congress, which “rewards millionaires.” “I think we’ll see a historic number of Asian Americans elected this year.”

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