Helen Gym’s Campaign for Philadelphia Mayor and the Future of U.S. Politics

Former Philadelphia City Councilmember Helen Gym in a picture taken in 2020 at a City Council Meeting.

Posted By Jenn

By Scott Kurashige

Philadelphia’s mayoral race is heating up, and Asian American community activists are deeply invested in the fight to be the city’s next political leader. Pennsylvania has been a crucial swing state for recent presidential and congressional elections, and politics in Pennsylvania are increasingly influenced by its growing Asian American electorate, which has doubled since 2016. Although still only 2 percent of Pennsylvania’s voters, Asian Americans are increasingly commanding attention, and organizers assert that their recent 70-80% support for Democratic candidates has proven crucial in hotly-contested political races.

This year, many of Pennsylvania’s progressive Asian American activists – including many who previously worked on campaigns for President Joe Biden and Senator John Fetterman – have turned their attention local. They are throwing their support behind Korean American progressive Helen Gym in Philadelphia’s mayoral race. Twice-elected to the Philadelphia City Council, Gym stepped down last year to announce her candidacy for Philadelphia mayor. She is now a leading candidate in the Democratic mayoral primary, which will be held on Tuesday, May 16 and which usually determines the outcome for mayor in this strongly Democratic city.

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The Lessons the Democratic Party Must Learn About Asian American Voters to Win in 2020

Kamala Harris (middle) pictured at a campaign event. (Photo credit: Ebony)

Posted By Jenn

For over a decade, political strategists have contemplated tactics for winning over the Asian American electorate. Routinely noted as one of the fastest-growing electorates in the country, Asian Americans currently make up about 5% of the electorate and is projected to double to over 12 million voters by 2040. Because Asian Americans are geographically concentrated in a few states, their impact on state and local elections in these states is even higher: in California, for example, Asian American voters wield profound influence in the heavily-Asian American Orange County. In swing states like Virginia, the Asian American electorate is large enough to swing narrow elections; indeed, Senator Hillary Clinton narrowly won the state in 2016 by a margin smaller than the number of Asian American voters in the state.

Going forward, Democrats need to include Asian American voters as part of its core base, and as part of its fundamental electoral strategy.

As the Democratic party sets its sights on the presidential election in 2020 — and the first opportunity for voters to unseat President Trump at the ballot box — The New York Times reports that several early voices have emerged as potential candidates to take the Democratic presidential nomination. They include Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris as well as former Vice President Joe Biden.

The speculation around these rumored candidacies is fierce; but all of these candidates must implement the following lessons as they advance towards the 2020 election season, particularly when it comes to courting the “sleeping giant” of Asian American voters.

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