By Akemi Tamanaha, AsAmNews Associate Editor
Navy Lieutenant Commander Jay Chen (Democrat) is currently fighting to unseat Rep. Michelle Steel (Republican) in the House. If he succeeds, he will be the new representative of California’s Congressional district 45.
Chen accuses Steel of governing on behalf of the special interests that fund her campaign and not on behalf of her constituents.
He spoke with AsAmNews about the issues he feels are important to voters and why he feels he would be a better representative than Steele.
Concerns of District 45 voters
Chen feels that many of the constituents in CA-45 are concerned about the economy and inflation. He said he is committed to pushing for legislation that provides economic relief to everyday people, criticizing Steel for looking after the interests of wealthy corporations. He noted that she supported Trump’s massive tax breaks for corporations and voted against a bill that would have taxed oil companies who made massive profits after hiking gas prices.
The Democratic hopeful also stressed the importance of protecting reproductive rights. He believes that women should have the right to safely end an “unintended pregnancy.” He noted that his opponent is not willing to protect reproductive rights.
“She signed on to the life at conception act which would create a federal ban on abortion with zero exceptions,” Chen said. “And that bill would actually override the protections we have here in California.”
CA-45, according to Chen, has some of the best public high schools in California. But parents in the area, like parents across the nation, are growing increasingly concerned about gun violence. Chen supports gun-control policies like universal background checks, stressing the importance of implementing those policies on a federal level in Congress.
“It doesn’t matter if California has smart laws that ban assault weapons. You can still go over the border to Nevada and Arizona to get these weapons,” he said.
The interests of Asian American voters
CA-45 was redrawn after the last census. Now, about a third of residents in the district are Asian.
Chen told AsAmNews that he is committed to stopping the rise in anti-Asian hate. Two years ago, the lieutenant spoke at a rally in Los Angeles addressing anti-Asian hate. He attended a rally in Diamond Bar, California, where an individual ran through the crowd yelling anti-Black and anti-Asian slurs.
“It’s important that these leaders speak out when these instances of anti-Asian hate are happening,” he said.
He added that he was disappointed to see Steel defend Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her husband Shawn Steel, a member of the Republican National Committee, frequently used the term “Wuhan Flu.” The Congresswoman initially worked on a bi-partisan bill to combat anti-Asian hate but later apologized to Republicans for doing so.
Chen said that, if elected, he planned to support legislation from Rep. Grace Meng’s (D-NY) that would create a national museum of Asian American Pacific history on the mall.
“The way that we cement our place here in America is by letting people know that we are American,” he said. “Having that presence on the Mall would really send a strong message to all of those who still hold these xenophobic ideas.”
Some political analysts believe that Republicans may make gains with Asian American voters. Chen believes gains may have been made in CA-45 because Steel used red-scare tactics during her last campaign. But he isn’t so sure there will be a big shift away from the Democratic party.
“Asian American voters are issues driven. They’re going to vote on candidates and vote on parties based on whether or not they see results,” he said.
His campaign refuses to take Asian American support for granted.
“We’re going to reach out and try and convince them that our platform is the best for them,” Chen said.
In his interview with AsAmNews, Chen highlighted what he sees as Steel’s extremism, saying it “has no place in Southern California.” He believes he can be a leader in Congress that will fight for the everyday Southern Californian.
“I’m going to be a different kind of leader. I want to make sure that government works for everyone and not just for the very wealthy few,” he said.
You can learn more about Chen’s journey into politics by reading our profile.
(Editor Note: AsAmNews has also reached out to Michelle Steel for an interview and hope to profile her as well in advance of the November election)
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