Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Winners and Losers of the Recall Election

It was no doubt a historical fight for the community. It was a political battle of David vs. Goliath. A group of political novices vs. the entire San Jose political establishment. In the end, Nguyen with her theme of "I am a misunderstood woman and I am a victim" and the recall will cost the city " $1 million dollar" got her the votes of Caucasians and Hispanics to win with the margin of 55% to 45%. The turn out was unprecedent high at almost 13,000 votes (38% of the total registered voters). The Vietnamese-American community is only 28% of the total registered voters but they made up almost 47% of the absentee ballots.

From exit polls, the Vietnamese-Americans were overwhelming against Nguyen (80% to 20%). However, the high turn-out went against them. So here are winners and losers of the election

1. It was a must win for Labor as they started the campaign working with Nguyen 4 months before the election. With massive manpower and money behind Nguyen, it would be unthinkable if they had lost.

2. Mayor Reed escaped a political nightmare if Nguyen had lost. First it was Hon Lien and now Madison Nguyen. Even though his reputation is damaged for the political mess, he came out with enough capital gain to fend off any challenger in 2010.

3. Nguyen with the support of the media, every elected officials (as the Mercury News mentioned because none of them wanted to set precedent for people to recall them if they made bad decision) and almost 2x the amount of money of the Recall Team, she was fighting for her political life. She won but she was damaged forever within her community.

4. The 5,700 votes against her. These are votes against Nguyen. The 7,000 votes against the recall are not really for Nguyen but against what they perceived the right and wrong of using the recall process. This is where Nguyen is weaken with the 5,700 votes of no confidence against her. Any challenger in 2010 will always have an automatic base against Nguyen.

5. The Recall Team took up the task assigned by the community. A team of all volunteers of professional young people who spent time working the campaign against tremendous odds. They attracted a young generation of Vietnamese-Americans to politics and the experience they learned are valuable. Never before the community have flexed it political muscle in such scale. They don't have enough votes to win an election but they have shown to be a very important swing votes for any candidates to win an election.

The final analysis - it will take a long time to heal since Nguyen has shown in the past to be vindictive with her political enemies. This is still small town politics with mini mayor system. She escaped the political batte of her life. Whether she will gain anything from it long term wise, only time can tell. The 5,700 votes of no confidence against her is still the jury to be convinced.

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