California Governor Gavin Newsom is making a big push for the Asian American vote as they go to the polls Tuesday to decide whether to recall him. So is the leading Republican hoping to unseat him, conservative radio host Larry Elder, according to the Sacramento Bee.
Asian Americans make up about 1 out of 6 registered voters in the country’s most populous state.
“I’m really proud of being a governor of a majority-minority state that at best doesn’t just tolerate diversity but celebrates diversity,” Newsom said to the congregation at one of the biggest Korean church’s in the country, Young Nak Church of Los Angeles.
“It was Gov. Gavin Newsom who hurt Korean small businesses,” Elder told Korean American media in Koreatown. “He must be recalled.”
The recall is primarily being fueled by the Republican party in a state where they comprise just 24% of voters. The GOP capitalized on anger incited by Newsom’s swift action to shut down California in the face of the coronavirus to qualify the recall for the ballot.
Under state rules, it’s possible for Newsom to get more votes than any of the 40 candidates that hope to unseat him, and still lose.
There are two questions on the ballot. The first asks if Newsom should be recalled. The second asks who should replace him.
Newsom must get a 50% plus one no vote to keep his job. If he fails, the candidate who comes out on top, irregardless of how many votes, will step in to replace him.
Phuoc Dam explained to the Los Angeles Times why he supports the recall.
“It’s simple. He cost us our livelihood,” said Dam, 67. “We had to shut down for months and months for no clear reason.”
A poll released by the UC Berkeley Institute for Governmental Studies found that 70% of Asian Americans oppose the recall. That’s the second strongest opposition of any group except African Americans who oppose the recall by 73%.
Yet the Times also found strong resentment among Vietnamese Americans towards Newsom.
Many are still upset at a comment the governor made which appeared to blame the first case of the coronavirus in California on a nail salon, an industry dominated by Vietnamese Americans.
“Certainly, there’s a sense of insult to the community when a core group of its members has been portrayed negatively like this — especially when that community historically has leaned toward the Republicans” said Sara Sadhwani, assistant professor of politics at Pomona College.
Vietnamese Americans are strongly anti-communist given that many fled their home country to escape the communist regime after the fall of Saigon. They have historically leaned Republican.
However, Tammy Kim, Vice Mayor of Irvine, is confident Asian Americans overall, will vote no to the recall as a threat to Democracy.
“When you talk about from the standpoint of our democracy and our vote counting… that’s the message that resonates the most with our community,” she told the Bee.
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