Monday, November 19, 2012

A lesson for Vietnamese-American Candidates in San Jose

The Vietnamese-American community in San Jose still felt cheated after the election as a lot of them were led to believe by Jimmy Nguyen's supporters that he would have a chance against the incumbent Rose Herrera. 

If it wasn't for Herrera running a terrible campaign and her husband getting caught stealing campaign signs,  Jimmy Nguyen would be trounced by wider margin instead of the 10% difference.

With roughly $500K spent on his behalf and with all the biggest names in San Jose politics campaigning for him, including Supervisor Dave Cortese (the dean of District 8 politics), Assemblywoman Nora Campos,  her brother San Jose Councilmember Xavier Campos and Labor Unions, everybody was predicting that the race would be much closer.

So what do we learn from this campaign?  A negative campaign that based on lies does not work, especially when the candidate is a newcomer with no ties in the community.   Spending $500K on mailers and other media  under the advise of high power consultant usually is a bad sign for a city council campaign, especially in a district of 100,000 people.   It was far excessive and it caused some people to vote against Nguyen out of disgust. 

Jimmy Nguyen was a good candidate but lacked the credibility to replace Rose Herrera.  People see him nothing but a pawn for other people's agenda.   He tried his best but his message was drown out by the negative campaign.  His campaign staff was inexperience and it showed in the end.  There were a lot of disappointed supporters who were also upset at the way they were treated by his campaign staff.  

To run for city council and this is only true for city council since the importance of knowing your community is heavily emphasized, the candidate does need to show that they are active within the district and know their neighborhoods.   This provides a foundation of local support that one will need to win a city council race.   Jimmy Nguyen needs to learn this lesson and keeps himself active if he is interested in running in 2016.

LSI does not see a Vietnamese-American candidate winning a major office in 2014 election in San Jose, especially if Cam Van Le and Tam Truong are on the collision course in District 7 to replace Madison Nguyen for the city council seat.  Nguyen meanwhile has nothing to lose so she will try her luck at running for mayor.  With practically no Vietnamese-American base, she will have a hard time getting past the primary.   Dave Cortese is getting his coaltion of Chinese-Americans, Vietnamese-Americans and Hispanics under his belt.   If he runs, it is just a question of can he get 50% + 1 in the primary or not.


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