With all the precincts counted, Ash Kalra has apparently won the state assembly election against Madison Nguyen. A big sigh of relief could be heard from at least half of the Vietnamese-American community in San Jose.
Nguyen was ahead by 130 votes at the beginning of the night and by the time the rooster crowed, she was behind by more than 2,000 votes. At this moment, she is behind by 3,897 votes.
Kalra was left for dead after the primary when he came in second but was 15% behind. Nguyen and her IEs launched a barrage of negative attacks in the primary. The voters received half a dozen hit pieces in May alone. Strangely enough, Kalra did not send a single negative piece in response in kind.
Undeterred with such a large deficit, he quickly built a coalition with the third, fourth and fifth place finishers of the primary. An Asian Wall was established with the Indian, Filipino, Chinese and Vietnamese voters. The whole idea was to slow Nguyen down at the early and absentee voting, while Kalra hoped that Labor Unions would drive the Hispanic vote to carry him to the finish line. The district registered voter map shows about 1/3 Asian, 1/3 Hispanic and 1/3 White.
Raising more than $1 million and having nearly $5 million in IE from outsiders (not in San Jose), Nguyen was in a catbird's seat. She outspent Kalra 2 to 1 and had the support of both current and former mayors. Everybody in her camp thought she would not only win but win big. Nguyen herself was emotionally upset at her Election Day party at the Xoncion to Community when her lead started to disappear.
Kalra's internal poll showed he was 4%-5% behind going in October. He knew he had a chance as long as Labor Unions would deliver with their ground game for Sylvia Arenas, Jim Beal and him. LSI poll for Vietnamese voters only indicated he was neck to neck with Nguyen. He trusted his Vietnamese supporters for he spent a considerable amount of time building relationships with the community.
At the end, to the delight of his supporters, Kalra's Asian Wall held and Labor Unions came through.
The voting trends for the last 24 hours are in his favorite. There are still thousands of ballots to be tallied but it is unlikely that she can catch up.
If there is such a lesson about local politics it shall be that one should never betray one's own supporters and expect to win an election.