Andrew Do’s defeat of former State Senator Lou Correa in the Jan. 27 First District Special Election has made history by creating a majority Asian Board of Supervisors here in Orange County.
Other Asian County Supervisors include Michelle Steel, a Korean-American who replaced John Moorlach after moving into Orange County from Los Angeles County, and Lisa Barlett, a Japanese-American who replaced Pat Bates. Both Moorlach and Bates termed out.
Supervisor Shawn Nelson was easily reelected last November in the 2014 General Election but his seat could eventually go to a Korean American as there is a large Korean population in North Orange County. In fact a Korean Republican, Young Kim, defeated incumbent State Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva last November in the 65th Assembly District.
Do is the second Asian-American to prevail in the First District. He was preceded by Janet Nguyen, who is also Vietnamese. She was elected to the 34th State Senate District last November. At this point the First District can be considered safely Vietnamese even though the district has a large Hispanic population. The difference? The Vietnamese-American voters actually vote while the district’s Latino voters tend to stay home on Election Day.
This is a big deal in Orange County as our County Supervisors tend to move on to State and Federal offices. As our incumbent Congressional Representatives retire it is very likely that our Asian Supervisors will take their seats.
The challenger for the Republican Party of Orange County will be to figure out how to be relevant to Latino voters as the face of their party becomes more and more Asian.
In a way these political changes reflect what is happening in Orange County’s workforce where more and more Latinos are reporting to Asian executives and business owners.
The Democratic Party of Orange County is in a real fix as they can’t figure out how to motivate Latino voters and can no longer point to the OC GOP as a majority white party. The famed blue “donut hole” in Orange County – the mostly Democratic Central Orange County – is no longer blue. The only elected Democrats of any note who remain are U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez and State Assemblyman Tom Daly.
The Santa Ana City Council remains dominated by Latino Democrats but their days are likely numbered. Vietnamese residents are moving into Santa Ana in droves and it won’t be long before they are winning City Council seats and maybe running for the SAUSD School Board too.
It is likely that Nguyen will challenge Sanchez as soon as 2016 and Daly’s seat remains heavily Hispanic which means a Latino from his own party could try to take it or the Republicans could eventually try to run a Latino Republican for the 69th Assembly District. They had a great candidate on hand in the 2014 Primary Election in the form of SAUSD School Board Member Cecilia Iglesias but her campaign consulants inexplicably did nothing to promote her and she lost to a carpetbagger from Lake Forest, Sherry Walker, who was blown out by Daly in the November election.