Saturday, May 11, 2019

Kansen Chu and His Surprise

The Bay Area politics was abuzz when 3-term  Assemblyman Kansen Chu (D) decided to resign from his position and run for Santa Clara County supervisor to replace the outgoing Supervisor Dave Cortese. 

He gave a hint last summer when he put out feelers on who would want to run for state legislature office.  The discussion involved a number of elected officials within his district.

At 67 years old, he does not enjoy the traveling back and forth  and wants to be close to home with his family.

His decision has changed the election landscape in 2020 for Assembly D25 and County D3.  Both districts have a sizable number of Asian-American voters.

Chu is now the clear front runner.  He has carefully built his name recognition and image for the last 12 years in office. He is well liked and popular among his constituents.  Not only that he has quite a campaign war chest of over $600,000.   If he wins, he can possibly serve for 12 years or until he is 80 years old (and would hold the record to be the oldest serving supervisor).

Both former Sunnyvale Mayor Otto Lee and San Jose City Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco were considered to be the two likely candidates to win the primary and face each other in the general election.   Now there is a good chance that the race will be over in the primary with Chu winning 50% + 1.

Here is what likely will happen in the supervisorial race -

Without any realistic chance of winning, Milpitas Mayor Richard Tran will drop out of the race and run for state assembly.   He has reached out to Chu  hoping to strike a deal.  After all, he thinks he can deliver the Vietnamese-American vote for Chu (as well as Milpitas in general).  In reality, Chu is well respected and known in the community.

Tran is a controversial figure in the Vietnamese-American community.  He rarely attends events and is unknown outside of  Milpitas.  His brashness and rude behavior  have displeased many older Vietnamese voters.  It does not help that he openly supports Madison Nguyen and asked her to swear him in as the mayor of Milpitas.

D3 has about 16% Vietnamese-American registered voters which is about 1% more than Hispanic voters.  Overall, the Asian voting is bloc is almost 45% of the total registered voters.

Carrasco is not trusted by Labor Unions so they will support Chu.   This is an important seat since Supervisor Cindy Chavez will need an ally to replace Cortese in the county to get things done in her favor. 

Lee lost his  2008 supervisorial race against Dave Cortese for the same D3 seat.   He felt betrayed when Chu endorsed and supported Cortese despite the fact that Lee  went out of his way to help Chu won his San Jose City council seat in 2007.    Ironically, Chu is now his opponent.

For the state assembly race, the rumor is that current D4 Councilmember Lan Diep has thought about running.  In a wide open race, he has a good chance as any other candidate.   After all, his political career will be stuck with nowhere to go even if he wins his re-election in 2020.   The career path was to replace Kansen Chu when he terms out in 2026.  Diep is in for a re-election fight against David Cohen and Huy Tran. 

Similar to Richard Tran, Diep has not endeared himself to the Vietnamese-American community with his condescending personality and is often perceived as another young Madison Nguyen.

Since D25 has a sizable number of Indian-American voters, it would not be surprised to see Fremont Vice Mayor Raj Salwan  throwing his hat in the ring.  He is a moderate politician with a pro-business view.

Things will become clearer in the next few weeks since it is a short campaign season with the primary looming in March 2020.

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