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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Could Tim Wu become New York’s first Asian American to hold statewide elected office?

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Columbia law professor Timothy Wu is running to be New York’s lieutenant governor. If he wins, he would be the first Asian American to hold statewide office in the state.

Next week on September 9th, New York voters will go to the polls to vote in the Democratic primary for the state’s gubernatorial races. Governor Andrew Cuomo will be running in his first re-election campaign after his successful 2010 bid for the state’s top spot which saw him running uncontested in the Democratic primary and trouncing Republican Carl Paladino in the general.

While there’s almost no doubt that Cuomo will be returning to the governor’s office this year, this year’s gubernatorial race in New York has still been one to watch: namely in regards to who will be standing alongside Cuomo this November. Cuomo’s running mate is Kathy Hochul, a former U.S. Congressman; before her term in the House, Hochul also served as Erie County Clerk for four years. After being defeated in her 2013 re-election campaign, Hochul joined the private sector working as a lobbyist for New York-based M&T Bank.

Hochul has been a lacklustre candidate for lieutenant governor, and virtually unknown outside of Buffalo political circles. Meanwhile, she’s had to spend most of the summer fighting against her own political past: in 2006, Hochul loudly advocated in favour of turning people suspected of undocumented status to federal authorities. Hochul has also voted several times against Obamacare and against gun control. Today, Hochul says she has reversed her position on undocumented immigration (2006 was a different time and place, she tells to Karen DeWitt of Norty County Public Radio) and now claims to be “1000%” in favour of DREAMers. Yet, these statements remain like an albatross around Hochul’s neck.

Meanwhile, another candidate — Columbia law professor Timothy Wu — has become the sudden rockstar of the New York state lieutenant governor’s race; and, if Wu is able to defeat Hochul next week and all other opponents in the general, he will become the first Asian American to hold statewide office in New York State.

So, who exactly is Tim Wu?

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