by Akemi Tamanaha, Associate Editor
On Tuesday, Georgia voters will decide whether the Democratic or Republican party controls the Senate.
The choice is between current Republican Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue or their respective Democratic challengers Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.
Asian American and Pacific Islander voters could provide the margin of difference. All four campaigns have been courting AAPI voters.
On December 28, the Georgia GOP (the Georgia Republican Party) announced its “newly updated Asian Pacific American Advisory Board.” The members of the advisory board are AAPI community leaders who are helping get out the vote for Loeffler and Perdue.
The APA Advisory board has also been coordinating digital and traditional media strategies in Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian, and Korean news outlets. Recently, they met with RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel to discuss their efforts. After the meeting, board members knocked on doors to encourage people to vote for Loeffler and Perdue.
Ossoff, the Democratic candidate running against Sen. Perdue (R), began reaching out to AAPI voters during his 2017 U.S. House of Representatives race, before he entered the 2020 Senate race. His campaign has hired a Vietnamese AAPI constituency director as well as Mandarin-speaking organizers. The campaign has also advertised in Korean, Vietnamese, Mandarin, and Bengali.
Warnock’s campaign has made similar efforts, producing advertisements and educational materials in several different AAPI languages. The campaign also hired Vyanti Joseph as its AAPI outreach director.
AsAmNews interviewed the Ossoff and Warnock campaigns about the issues facing AAPI communities in Georgia via email. We were unable to contact representatives Senator Loeffler’s and Senator Perdue’s campaign in time for this article. The party, did, however, share a statement with us.
“Under President Trump and the Republican Senate, Asian Pacific
Americans have seen vast economic growth and the lowest recorded
unemployment rates in history,” Georgia GOP Executive Director
Stewart Bragg said in a statement. “Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock would undo all of these accomplishments through a radical, socialist agenda. Asian Pacific Americans in Georgia know what is at stake in this run-off election and we are grateful to have so many community leaders working together to get out the vote for Senators Loeffler and Perdue.”
The Ossoff and Warnock campaigns expressed their commitment to issues AAPIs are concerned about like pandemic relief, access to healthcare and support for small businesses.
“It will be his number one focus once in the senate to deliver direct relief to working families and AAPI-owned small businesses,” the Ossoff campaign stated in an email.
The Warnock campaign also underscored the importance of improving the pathways to legal immigration and protecting immigrant rights as many AAPIs are immigrants.
“For Georgia’s undocumented immigrants who work hard and pay taxes, Reverend Warnock will fight for a path to permanent, legal residence and provide legal channels for immigrants who wish to contribute to the American economy to enter the United States,” Joseph said in an email. “For those who already make up our beloved community, but seek a stable path to citizenship, Reverend Warnock will advocate for civic and educational programs to help AAPI immigrants receive fair and equal access to the naturalization process.”
Many AAPI voters in Georgia said issues surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic propelled them to the polls in the general election. During the pandemic, AAPIs have increasingly become targets of discrimination, racism and hate crimes. Much of that racism has been fueled by comments from President Donald Trump in which he labeled COVID-19 “the Wuhan Virus” or “the Kung Flu.”
The Ossoff and Warnock campaigns condemned the White House’s racist rhetoric and said they will help struggling AAPIs through the pandemic if elected. Things they say their opponents, Perdue and Loeffler, have not done while in office.
“While David Perdue was telling Georgians this pandemic was going to be no worse than the common flu after Congress received a classified briefing, he was buying up stocks in medical suppliers and protecting his own pocketbook, and enabling Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric,” the Ossoff campaign said in an email. “Not only will Jon always stand with the AAPI community against the divisive rhetoric that Senator Perdue has supported, but will work to deliver more desperately needed relief that Senator Perdue and Mitch McConnell have blocked for eight months.”
Warnock’s campaign echoed the Ossoff campaign’s sentiments, noting that their opponent Sen. Loeffler had chosen to help herself during the pandemic instead of struggling Georgian families, many of whom are AAPIs.
“We need a Senator who will do what’s best for all Georgians,” the Warnock campaign said.
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