The election of Andrew Do by just 43 votes to the Orange County Board of Supervisors gives Asian Americans a majority on the board for the first time, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Do won in a special election to replace Janet Nguyen who was elected to serve as a state senator.
The victory came down to the absentee ballots. Do led by just two votes over former State Senator Lou Correa at the end of election night with last minute absentee ballots still to be counted. His victory was certified Friday night. It is not yet known whether Correa will ask for a recount.
If the election is not overturned, Do will join Michelle Park Steel, a Korean immigrant, and Lisa Bartlett, a Japanese American elected in November. All three are Republicans on a five member board comprised of all Republicans. The presence of three Asian Americans including two women on the board is a boost to Republicans who have tried hard to change its image as a party of old white men.
The two other members of the board, Todd Spitzer and Shawn Nelson, are also Republican.
The election of Do is also a testament to the political engagement of Vietnamese Americans. A survey from Political Data found 46 percent of all absentee ballots in the special election came from Vietnamese American voters.
“I think what is interesting with the Vietnamese American vote in Orange County is that it goes counter to the stereotype of Asian Americans as generally not involved in politics,” said UC Riverside political scientist Karthick Ramakrishnan to KPCC.
He says their votes tend to lean to the right and are firmly anti-communist. Ramakrishnan compared it to the political engagement of Cubans.