New York’s Asian American “band of brothers” all defeated in Tuesday’s Democratic primary

Tim Wu was defeated in Tuesday's Democratic primary for the party's Lt. Governor nomination. (Photo credit: Photograph: Linda Nylind / Guardian).
Tim Wu was defeated in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for the party’s Lt. Governor nomination. (Photo credit: Photograph: Linda Nylind / Guardian).

Over this past week, I’ve been covering the New York Democratic primary, where three Asian American men — Tim Wu, John Liu and SJ Jung — were vying for the party’s nomination for Lt. Governor and various State Senate seats respectively.

Last week, I wrote about Lt. Governor candidate Tim Wu, an unconventional and anti-establishmentarian progressive best known for coining the term “net neutrality” who was campaigning as independent gubernatorial hopeful Zephyr Teachout’s running-mate on a platform of stopping the proposed billion dollar merger between Comcast and Time Warner cable, and other digital rights issues. Disregarded as a longshot candidate for most of the summer, Wu’s campaign gained sudden and significant momentum in the days leading up to yesterday’s primary vote, leading some to suggest that Wu might either win the party’s Democratic nomination outright or replace his mainline Democrat opponent — Kathy Hochul — on the Cuomo ticket; either scenario would have made Timothy Wu a near shoo-in as the first Asian American to hold elected state-wide office in New York.

In the midst of his sudden publicity, Wu publicly endorsed a cadre of Asian American Democratic underdogs — terming the three of them a “band of brothers” — last Tuesday: career politician John Liu and political newcomer SJ Jung, both running to unseat incumbent (White) Democrats in the State Senate.

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The Wu/Liu Divide: NY Asian American politicians caught in the crossfire of a Dem upheaval

John Liu during his term as City Comptroller. (Photo credit: Jonathan Fickies / Bloomberg)
John Liu during his term as City Comptroller. (Photo credit: Jonathan Fickies / Bloomberg)

Late last week, I wrote about New York Lt. Governor candidate Tim Wu’s endorsement of State Senator hopeful John Liu’s campaign. Both men are Taiwanese American politicians; in his endorsement, Wu called Liu and another Asian American State Senate candidate, SJ Jung, Asian American “underdogs” and a “band of brothers”. Wu cited the persistent underrepresentation of Asian Americans in New York’s political leadership in saying, “We could use a stronger Asian-American voice in the legislature.”

Liu responded with a scathing and abrupt rejection of Wu’s endorsement, saying,

“Just to be clear: I do not know this person, I have not met this person and I’m not interested in accepting endorsements from people I have never heard of before.”

This story had me equal parts baffled and titillated: one Asian American politician publicly slapping away the hand of another?

What could possibly cause John Liu, a man who at one time championed stronger Asian American voices within elected office, to eschew the support of a fellow Asian American “brother”? Why haven’t Asian American political representatives come out in support (even begrudging support) for Tim Wu, a man with a legitimate shot at being New York’s first Asian American elected to statewide office?

What the heck?!?

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NY State Senate candidate John Liu rejects Lt. Gov candidate Tim Wu’s endorsement

John Liu in Manhattan in 2012. ( Photo credit: Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)
John Liu in Manhattan in 2012. ( Photo credit: Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

This is virtually unheard of in political campaigns. This is a big frickin’ deal.

Former NYC Comptroller and City Councilman, and current candidate for NY State Senate John Liu, has openly rejected an endorsement from fellow Taiwanese American New York political hopeful Tim Wu, who is a rising rock star in the state’s Lt. Governor’s race. Democratic voters will be choosing between Wu and  establishment candidate Kathy Hochul on September 9th in the Democratic primary for the Lt. Governor’s race.

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