Hillary Clinton advanced one step closer to the Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday when she faced off against challenger Bernie Sanders in New York State’s primary race — a major prize in the contest for delegate numbers — and emerged victorious. This race was of particular interest to the AAPI community given that New York City boasts the largest single concentration of Asian Americans of any US city: NYC is home to roughly 1 million adult Asian American citizens who represent ~12% of the city’s residents.
Although structural obstacles continue to stymie Asian American voter turnout, roughly 20,000 Asian American voters turned out in New York City on Tuesday to cast a ballot in the Democratic or Republican primary races. Based on New York Times’ exit polling, Asian Americans were 2% of voters who turned out on Tuesday, up from ~1% in 2008.
Too often, mainstream exit pollsters fail to collect a large enough sample of Asian American or Pacific Islander voters to reveal our community’s voting trends. Thankfully, however, the AAPI community has routinely stepped up to meet that challenge.
A week after Hillary Clinton’s AAPI Outreach Director, Lisa Changadveja, departed the campaign for a position with the Colorado Democratic Party, a replacement has been announced. NBC News reports today that Jason Tengco, the former deputy director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI), has been appointed as the Clinton campaign’s newest AAPI Outreach Director.
Just half a year after taking the position, Hillary Clinton’s Director of AAPI Outreach will be leaving the Democratic primary frontrunner’s presidential campaign fora position with the Colorado Democratic Party.
Lisa Changadveja — who began working for the Clinton campaign during the 2007-2008 cycle and who served as AAPI and LGBTQ outreach director for a Clinton-affiliated SuperPAC during the 2012-2013 election — was named the Clinton campaign’s official Director of AAPI Outreach late last summer. During her tenure as Hillary for America’s AAPI Outreach Director, Changadveja eschewed traditional outreach approaches in favour of on-the-ground events held in predominantly Asian American neighbourhoods to improve the Clinton campaign’s visibility with potential voters.
In a presidential primary cycle that has largely failed to acknowledge or address the growing AAPI electorate, last week the two remaining candidates for the Democratic party’s nomination appeared on-stage for their seventh debate appearance. Many have focused on the debate’s coverage of domestic issues – particularly on the answers by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders on racial justice – but few have focused on a crucial exchange between the two primary candidates that should have critical relevance for the Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.
In the latter third of the debate, debate moderators turned the attention of the candidates to foreign policy, and Sanders seized upon the moment to launch into an impassioned critique of former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (full video after the jump).
I happen to believe that Henry Kissinger was one of the most destructive Secretaries of State in the history of the country. I’m proud to say that Kissinger is not my friend. I will not take advice from Henry Kissinger.
Unfortunately, the momentousness of this statement went largely unnoticed by debate viewers; after all, it has been nearly forty years since Kissinger served any president in the White House. But, this rare example of a mainstream presidential primary candidate daring to speak out against Henry Kissinger – who remains a protected pillar of the foreign policy establishment in Washington – is noteworthy.
The AAPI community must, in particular, take heed.
This post has been a long time in the making. I’ve spent the better part of the last eight months on the fence, watching the battle lines be drawn in the Democratic primary fight. I weighed the pros and cons of the candidates running to represent the Democratic party in November, and while I’ve found all to be generally acceptable, none have been truly electrifying – or, at least, as electrifying as was a junior senator from Illinois in 2008.
To be honest, I didn’t think it would really matter whom I supported in the 2016 Democratic primary race; I believed that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would sweep her way to an easy primary victory early this year. I watched as many other highly qualified candidates declined to run, leaving only Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley standing in opposition to Clinton. No matter what I thought of their progressive politics, it seemed unlikely that Sanders and O’Malley would have the resources to seriously challenge the Clinton machine.